When approaching the conversation with intellectual honesty, one cannot dispute that low ISO IQ is an important aspect of photography....especially for nature photographers.AN
important aspect of photography. Not THE important aspect of photography. You made my point for me.
Yes, it is important, I said as much. It is no where near as important as a growing number of photographers seem to think. It is AN important factor of IQ, but by no means the singular most important one. You are also missing part of my point. Canon has dynamic range, quite a lot of it in the grand scheme of things. The argument I was debating was that Canon so utterly and desperately needed more low ISO DR.
I levy the question again...how many of your shots are at ISO 100, and more importantly, of those ISO 100 shots, in how many did you desperately NEED to push shadows more than two or three stops?
Privatebydesign offered part of the answer:
That is an interesting question that illustrates why there are so many diverse opinions about th same piece of equipment, we all use them differently.
As for me I took a look, of my last 19,500 images, 9,000 were at 100iso, 7,500 at 200iso, 2,000 at 400 iso and 1,500 at 800 and other random intermediate iso stops.
I'd like higher low iso image quality. But I am not going to spit my dummy out waiting for it.
We know how many he takes at low ISO. He takes a lot, but that doesn't address my actual question, and the question that actually pertains to having more than 12 stops of DR at ISO 100: How many of those 9000 ISO 100 images needed to be pushed by four, five, or six stops? I would guess VERY FEW. Practically none, unless PBD shoots exceptionally difficult scenes with massive dynamic range on a regular basis/for a living. If that is the case, then hell, I highly recommend a D800 for him. In the grand scheme of things, though, I doubt most photographers even think about pushing shadows that much (or could even find a legitimate reason to.)
Personally, I've taken about 55,000 photos at ISO 800 - 3200. I've taken about 15,000 at ISO 400, and less than 10,000 at ISO 100 and 200. Of the ISO 100 photos, I have needed more dynamic range than my 7D offers in about 2000 shots, however I am usually short by maybe one stop (and that is more because of the 7D pixel size...if I had a 5D III, I would have what I need for pretty much everything I've shot before.) In the cases where slight vertical banding noise did show up in the shadows (maybe a couple hundred at most)...I used Topaz DeNoise 5, and was not only able to remove the banding, but I also gained more dynamic range (that's what happens when you reduce noise anyway...you gain DR, but Topaz has a feature that attempts to further recover DR that was lost to shadow noise due to a loss of tonal fidelity, which gains me even more.)
I use GND filtration for my landscape photography, so dynamic range is actually something I have a lot of control over in the field. I would actually greatly appreciate more native sensor DR, as it would reduce my need to use GND filters. It would also help me avoid that unsightly GND artifact where mountaintops end up dark or even black when you need to use more than two to three stops of filtration. That is the single situation where I think having more dynamic range would actually be the most important factor for IQ...ONE situation. I also suspect that tonemapping 14 stops into 8-10 stops without ending up with quirky shifts in contrast and color fidelity would still be very challenging, and I highly doubt I would stop using GND filters even if I had a D800. I still doubt I would push shadows around more than 2-3 stops....but it would be 2-3 stops along with fewer GND filters, which still makes the job easier in the end.
Again, I am not saying more DR is bad. Certainly not. I would just like to know, given how many people have started complaining about it since the release of the D800, how many of them actually have a real-world USE for more DR. Of PBD's 9000 ISO 100 shots...in how many did he actually push shadows around more than 2 stops? That's the real indicator of how much dynamic range we NEED, vs. how much more dynamic range we just WANT because, well, you know...the other guy has it.
Personally, I know the use cases I would love to have more DR for. It's a small fraction of my work. I also know that the kind of photography I do most is in line with the majority of DSLR users...action. Action photographers are what make the Canon Photography world go round. There are far more action shooters than any other kind of shooter, when you factor in sports, air shows, car races, bike races, watersports, wildlive, birds, and all those little children running around dimly lit houses. I want more DR, but I also know it isn't the singular most important IQ factor that so many forum talkers seem to think it is. If more people would honestly answer the question: "How often do you NEED to lift ISO 100 shadows more than 2-3 stops?" I think people might get a clearer picture of how important more dynamic range actually is to their work.