I know everybody has invested in lenses and accessories, so jumping ship is not practical, but here is what that 3 stop of extra DR can mean (5D3 on top, D800 on the bottom):
All this really proves that even two of the best cameras currently made are each capable of producing suboptimal images when used incorrectly.
It isn't that the 5D III was used incorrectly. Fred Miranda was the one who did that review, and he is a respectable authority on such matters. The original sample images were shot to keep the whites from blowing in a high DR scene...and this, quite plain and simply, is indeed the result when you lift the shadows to compensate. There isn't any question that Canon has issues with their low ISO DR. It has been blotchy and banded for well over five years now, and it is Canon's weakest point.
Given DXO's review of the 70D, it's clear they have not put any effort into improving sensor IQ. Canon's focus is clearly different, and the weight of their focus has clearly shifted heavily towards video. I was hoping to see a better DR improvement for the 70D, and these results are rather disheartening. I'm a stills photographer, and I use my DSLR for still photographs. Quite frankly, I would really like to see Canon invest some of their huge cash flow into improving their products for their primary intended purpose, and not some secondary "sometimes convenient" purpose like video.
The Magic Lantern crew proved that Canon's sensors are capable of capturing the full 14 stops of dynamic range allowed by a 14-bit ADC...I think its high time Canon stopped their focus in video and returned their focus to EVERY aspect of IQ, including factors based on the sensor. I've argued in the past that there are other factors that affect IQ, such as AF system, but Canon has already perfected those technologies. Fred Miranda's comparison of the 5DIII and D800 is an excellent demonstration of why Canon should finally shift their focus back towards improving still photography IQ. I don't even think the problem is in the sensor, either...I think its in the ADC...and Canon pretty much whips up a new version of that every major release cycle anyway...so there shouldn't be any reason they couldn't invest some serious R&D into solving their low ISO IQ problem.
No more clever arguments from me about why Canon's products are good. They are, but that isn't the point any longer. I truly hope to see something significant on the sensor/ADC IQ front with the 7D II...otherwise, the 5D III will probably be my last Canon DSLR purchase until they stop focusing on secondary video functionality and refocus on the primary purpose of a DSLR: photography.
The latest patent they have released (2013 for the newest variant, apparently they already had ones as far back as 2006 though) seem to make it clear they even have the designs to do it, or least largely so it appears, so they just need marketing to let the engineers start producing their DSLR sensor designs on Canon's more modern fabs or to build a new one instead of making the DSLR engineers have to work within the limitations of the very old 500nm Canon fab. But they have so far wanted to keep milking the old fab DSLR while all other other companies move on to new fabs for large sensors. (someone claimed they heard that Canon had shifted some of the newest P&S models to the older fab and speculated Canon had finally decided to use the 180nm fab for DSLRs now. Who knows. Just a rumor.)
I do have to say I do love the 5D3 video abilities though now that they have been unlocked by Magic Lantern. It's pretty astonishing. I don't think that really had anything to do with not getting better stills quality though (maybe costs it a touch in the MP count but then again it also got it to a very nice 6fps by staying lower, although I suppose they could've maybe fit in two digic since the 7D could fit two, but whatever)).
The new liveview AF for the 70D does sound it took quite a lot of resources up. It is very cool though. All the same if it was better sensor for IQ vs that I'd have takne the better sensor and then done this new AF later. For the 70D market perhaps the AF matters more. But in the end I think it's probably mostly just that marketing wanted them to keep milking the old 500nm line which probably meant there wasn't much the sensor engineers could really do.
I do hope Canon moves to 180nm soon. They certainly have the capability of building a 180nm fab, and they are on solid financial footing...its not like they would need to go billions into debt like Sony did in order to move to a new fab line.
If the marketing department really has that much control at Canon, then something is really wrong. Marketing shouldn't have a say in what technological developments a company invests in and deploys...marketing should simply sell what the technical departments of a company develop. So, I've never really bought the argument that marketing controls what Canon does. If there is some concrete information about who controls what at Canon that indicates their marketing department(s) have that much direct control, then maybe that is something.
For whatever reason, Canon has gone full-bore on video, and for years now. Ever since the 5D II hit the streets with video, it seems Canon thinks that is the path to financial glory. Sadly, it seems to have consumed them entirely, to the detriment of the original purpose of a "camera": to take still photographs. I think Canon has taken it about as far as it can go though, or almost. With full-sensor FPPDAF, I don't really know what else Canon can do other than maybe tie in the metering even more, include even more advanced face detection, and maybe go to quad-split pixel designs for both horizontal and vertical phase detection. After that...what else could Canon possibly invent in the video arena for their DSLRs that would actually be meaningful and competitive?
I just hope the 7D II brings some significant IQ improvements to the table. Across the board...low ISO DR, high ISO SNR/noise, increased resolution, higher frame rate, better AF. If nothing more than to show their customers that when the next generation of FF finally hits, it won't just be a tweaked 61pt AF system and the same old 12 stops of DR.