I can’t give up clean shadows and over 14 stops at 100 ISO, even if my heart is really with Canon due to my history with them.
Only complaint I have, and the reason I persist in my critique of DXO, is the native RAW files actually have 13.2 stops of DR. The 14+ stops of DR ONLY
occurs when you downsample your images to a very specific size: 8x12 @ 300ppi
. I believe that is a very critical
point, as theoretically it is impossible to have more than 14 stops of dynamic range when using a RAW image that uses 14 bits per color channel. It's also critical that we always edit our RAW images at full size...otherwise, we wouldn't be editing RAW, we would be editing exported TIFF or JPEG images produced from RAW, and that amazing editing latitude would disappear into thin air.
You can downsample (or upsample) your images to any range of sizes, from 1x1 pixel to tens of thousands by tens of thousands of pixels. The dynamic range that each individual photographer may get from a D800 is completely arbitrary. Using the 8x12" print @ 300ppi ONLY has relevance when comparing cameras on DXO's site. Referencing the 14.2 stop number (or 14.8 stops in the case of the D810) outside of the context of DXO, such as you have (not to fault you, your post was great) here is actually invalid, and it's THAT
, THAT very thing, that gives me persistent cause to call DXO out for producing misleading results: When actually editing
a RAW in a RAW editor like Lightroom, the dynamic range of the D800 files is 13.2 stops, no more. (Similarly, the dynamic range of Canon files is somewhere between 10 and 11 stops, so that doesn't give Canon any kind of benefit, the same issues apply to DXO's tests of Canon sensors...in reality, Canon users are still stuck in the realm of ~10.5 stops of dynamic range instead of ~13, so there IS a benefit to using a Sony Exmor sensor if you use low ISO a lot.)
When your in a tool like Lightroom, lifting shadows, then all you have is the 13.2 stops of the only real "measure" of dynamic range that DXO does: Screen DR (it's something you can select when browsing through DXO's results on their site.)
I want them to blow everyone out of the water and deliver a killer high MP, hi DR sensor and give me my well missed rate button back.I couldn't agree more with all of this!
But life goes on, and Canon have a following that means they are still the number one as far as sales go due to their reputation from prior to 2012, and I guess that won’t change for 2-3 years yet, so they have time to get it right.
But lets not deny reality.
If they don’t catch up, a good brand name is not going to last forever.
While for someone like myself, who pretty much always shoots at ISO 400 or above for the vast majority of my photography (birds, wildlife, astrophotography), the difference between Canon cameras and any camera from the competition is negligible. If you always shoot at low ISO, there is no denying that Canon has noise problems, and anything that uses a Sony Exmor (which is now a fairly good number of cameras from a range of brands now) is going to produce superior low ISO results. Canon hasn't really, fundamentally changed their technology in...what...a decade plus? They have made evolutionary improvements every couple years...added microlenses, removed the gaps between microlenses, increased quantum efficiency (although recently, their improvements there have been less), and a few other things, fundamentally the core technology is the same: 500nm process, off-die, high frequency ADC, HIGH read noise.
I do agree, if Canon doesn't do something
to catch up to and compete with the competition, the high Canon is still riding will fade, then disappear, and then the bottom will fall out. Canon is the top camera manufacturer in the world...but pretty much every company that just sits and rides on their past success has ultimately failed (i.e. Kodak!
They were THE film camera company of the masses for decades...where are they now? Do they even hold any more patents? They are a pitiful shadow of their former shadow, let alone of their former self.) I personally really do not want to see Canon go down that route. I LOVE Canon glass...I think their lenses are second to none in all but a very few cases (less than a handful.) I don't think I could do without Canon ergonomics (that whole package deal, the body shape and size, the button placement, options, and configurability), the menu system.)
Nevertheless, I do photograph landscapes on occasion, and I would really love to have a better full frame camera with phenomenal dynamic range and resolution, along with some improved wide angle glass (a 14-24 would be nice, but I'd settle for a kick-ass 16-35mm f/2.8 III with excellent corner performance, as I've enjoyed my 16-35mm II.) I would love to be able to lift shadows and not have to apply extra work removing banding, crosshatch noise, and the sprinkle of salt and pepper noise that shows up in the really deep shadows of Canon sensors. (Although, it should be noted, it is possible to remove banding, and when Canon's banding noise is removed, the DR of their files increases considerably...maybe not the full 2.2-2.4 stops difference between a Canon file and the Nikon D800/600/810, but enough... The key difference is sometimes you have to take a shadow detail hit when denoising, which you don't have to do with a Nikon file).
I am still a big fan of my Canon equipment, and I'll always be involved in the DXO debates (which is more what this whole thread is, a debate about the validity of many of DXO's results (which apply to ALL cameras tested by DXO, not just Nikon cameras...it's just that the skew is so much greater with Nikon cameras...14+ stops of editing latitude is impossible when the files are only 14-bit) and particularly their scoring, rather than a Canon vs. Nikon thing), but I can't help but think I'll lose some faith in Canon's ability to compete if the 7D II and 5D IV hit the streets AGAIN with...not even eleven stops of dynamic range and their nasty banded read noise.
Canon needs to use some of the billions they make every year to bring their still image sensor technology into the 2010s (and out of the late 1990's).