The grain I referred to is what Nikon is doing in their latest bodies. (Just an aggravation jab as I was hoping to upgrade my D700 with video.. heh) However even Nikon knows that with current tech you cannot add more mp and higher ISO without introducing more noise. Not saying it won't happen as tech advances, but it is the reality atm. Nikons approach is to pull out color noise, desaturate it, redigitize it, and redistribute it as 'grain' which they have spent the past few years trying to convince everyone is ok because it gives that 'film' look.. One of the first evolutions of digital was the absence of grain (at one ISO setting or another) to reintroduce it again to cover high gain noise is not a move forward I care to see. Does not matter whether you agree (no offense) it is what they are doing.
*Well they have been doing it for a while actually, just showing up more now with their higher mp bodies*
I did not assert the focus on shadow recovery as a claim, but you don't have to spend but 5-seconds online anywhere to see how many people focus on little else, especially if they are a Nikon user or hate Canon for some reason and making it the bases of comparison in superiority.
I agree with you regarding 'magic' in your images, my reference was to shadow exposure - not color.
Not sure what anthropomorphic qualities you read into my comment, but the sensor does indeed 'know' what the manufacturer wants it to be sensitive to. Canon has traditionally focused on protecting highlights, as did the industry in general for years, and Nikon on shadows.. For some reason today all the rage is about shadow recovery.. /shrug
Just used cropping as the most relevant example, that again 5-seconds online, you can see what most are using all those mp for..
As for DxO, I am sorry but you are completely wrong. DxO clearly states how their testing is done, at what stage the data is derived, and emphasizes that as the reason their data analysis is empirical - which it is, technically, because they are testing the hardware itself not how the manufacturer implements the hardware. The consumer however gets the manufacturers flavor of the data..