I'm still bummed that Canon has STILL not demonstrated they are getting competitive again on the sensor front...re-purposing the 70D sensor in the 7D II just smells really sloppy and cheap....
The 70D sensor is competitive. So what would you like them to do?
Resolution? Better be north of 40 MP to see a real difference, and that's only for those of us who regularly make large prints of finely detailed subject matter (i.e. landscapes shot from a tripod at optimum apertures). Not even Sony can pull that off in APS-C right now and retain high ISO/DR.
Total DR? The 70D is 1/3 stop behind Exmor.
Shadow latitude (noise)? You yourself showed how ridiculously small the difference is when NR is intelligently applied. When I first saw a Canon v Exmor pushed shadow test I thought the tester was purposely lying because I had never seen noise that bad...because I never turn off default NR when pushing shadows hard. In fact I apply more! I routinely push shadows 2-3 stops even with the old, noisy, 7D sensor. The thing I run into pushing shadows is not noise, but a tonality/fine detail/microcontrast wall, and you hit the same wall on Sony.
High ISO? In the DPReview and IR studio comparisons the 70D looks pretty much the same as the D7100 (for example). I would shoot either to 6400 if need be.
Color? Canon seems to have nailed that one. Other people complain and profile their sensors to try and match Canon color.
The next major jumps are going to involve 16-bit designs, multilayer sensors, or some other technology twist. We are well into diminishing returns given the state of sensor fabrication right now.
The only thing "wrong" with Canon's sensors is they score poorly over at DxO relative to Exmor. So do Hasselblad medium format sensors! Only Hasselblad fans are sophisticated enough to know DxO is a joke. I doubt any of their users are silly enough to jump on a forum and say "If Hasselblad doesn't do something about these sensors I'm buying a D810!"
I hope Canon makes a major jump in the 7D2 sensor by applying NR in camera even to RAWs and therefore gaming DxO to get a higher score
Well, your just plain wrong about the DR. Your using IR's "total DR" number, which is irrelevant, as it doesn't take into account noise. This doesn't even refer to DXO's numbers (which are all based on the Print DR number that I loath)....across the board, whoever's measured DR on Canon sensors, from the noise floor to the FWC, regardless of whether they get 9.5 stops and 12 stops, or 11 stops and 13.2 stops, or 12 stops and 14.4 stops, it doesn't really matter. Even IR's results where they don't completely ignore noise even jive, and IR ALSO gets approximately a two-stop difference between Canon sensors and Exmors.
You are correct that some careful NR can close the gap. Thing is, if you actually look at my sample images I recently posted, there is still a gap. And, it was extra work to do the NR on the 5D III image. The real kicker is the gap is growing. Other manufacturers are not sitting still. Today, were still capped at 14 stops. I don't think we'll be stuck with 14-bit ADC units for long...technology is moving far too fast for that. There are already some sensors in the astrophotography world that get anywhere from 97-150dB worth of dynamic range. That is 16.2 to 25 stops of dynamic range! Those astro cameras use...yup, Sony, Aptina, etc. sensors.
It isn't just about DR either. As others have stated, 4k video recording is starting to become a more common feature among competitors, and the quality of that video is higher than you can get with a Canon. DIGIC 6 may change that, but at the moment, the video processing in competitors like the A7s or GH4 is superior, and the video quality is supreme.
I've also been getting more and more into astrophotography equipment. I've purchased some equipment lately that uses sensors from Sony and Aptina. I'll be getting a high end CCD camera that uses a Kodak (now TrueSense Imaging, since Kodak went bankrupt) sensor. Every single sensor I'm encountering these days, even slightly older CCD sensors (which are pretty much just a matrix of CCDs with shift registers or global readout, but otherwise none of the additional processing that CMOS sensors have) that have been paired with newer supporting circuitry, is better than Canon's sensors.
Some of these things are RADICALLY superior to what Canon has to offer. I have a QHY5L-II camera which uses an Aptina CMOS sensor. This thing has 74% Q.E. thanks to high grade silicon, it has exceptionally low dark current, and it has extremely low read noise. This sensor sees deeper into the universe than I thought possible. (And, annoyingly enough, Sony STILL has a better sensor than this one! Their new ICX line, the 674, 694, and 814, all have even lower dark current and 77% Q.E.!!
Freakin Sony...wherever there is a damn good sensor, they seem to have a better one...)
I've been reading every bit of sensor news that comes out lately. The sensor market keeps finding new niches. The latest one is the automative rear view sensor market. There are already some incredible innovations for that. Interestingly enough, the whole "Magic Lantern Dual ISO" thing? Other companies are now actually patenting designs for sensors that use a "dual-gain" technique for high speed, high dynamic range video supported directly in the hardware (for when your rear view is directly illuminated by the sun or something like that.) My QHY sensor? That sucker has 120dB worth of dynamic range. That is TWENTY FREAKIN STOPS!! The thing has a 20-bit readout mode to fully support that many stops as well.
A year ago, I wouldn't have said Canon was that far behind. I DID say Canon was not that far behind. But in the last year or so, things have really changed. Companies aren't just innovating and filing for patents. They are putting the technology those patents describe to use, very quickly. Canon's sensor technology is like a fossil compared to the technology that is just coming out now, and will be like fossilized bone fragments when the next generation of technology hits within the next year.
So, the 70D? It doesn't sell because of it's sensor. It sells because of the other features. The 7D II will sell for the same reason...it's other features. Those other features, though...they aren't going to keep holding Canon up forever. At some point, Canon's sensor technology, if they don't do something about it within the next DSLR release or two, is going to be so radically behind the competition...and not just Sony, but every other sensor manufacturer out there...that it will be hard for anyone to ignore the difference. What happens when Sony drops a LITERAL 16-stop sensor on the market? What happens when they figure out how to extract 120dB (20 stops) worth of DR from Exmor III? What happens if Aptina decides to enter the larger form factor market, bringing all of their high dynamic range technology to those sensors as well? Omnivision and Si Onyx are out there with cameras that use black silicon that seem to have achieved nearly 100% Q.E. They can shoot high speed video in nothing but starlight and a thin crescent moon.
When you take in the whole "Big Picture" of the current CMOS Image Sensor market, Canon is a dinosaur. They may not be fossilized yet, but given all the technology I have now for astrophotography, and given all the technology that is invented or implemented in a product every single MONTH, it won't be long before Canon's sensor technology is completely and utterly irrelevant. (Assuming they continue to do absolutely nothing with it.) Layered sensors will only keep Canon afloat for so long if they don't get control of their noise problems. To get control of their noise problems, they are going to have to stop manufacturing ADCs they way they have been manufacturing ADCs for over a decade now...that either means doing something radically new with DIGIC, or better, do what everyone else is doing...move them onto the sensor. To move the ADCs onto the sensor, without having problems with thermal signatures or anything like that, they are going to need to have a die shrink, use smaller transistors just to get it all to fit without costing them too much wafer space, and preferably, use a more modern transistor design that supports lower power usage.
I do not believe Canon can produce a low noise layered sensor on a 500nm process. They would lose so much in terms of fill factor...SO much die space would have to be dedicated to pixel activate and readout logic, the photodiodes would end up extremely tiny.
Oh, and BTW, Hasselblad? They DID do something about their sensors. All of the medium format players did. They all use Sony 50mp Medium Format Exmor sensors, and they all have the same low ISO DR and high ISO noise quality (which is admittedly not any better than Canon's, but now MFD cameras are pushing ISO 6400, when most stopped at around ISO 800 at most before...some never even had selectable ISO, and just had ISO 80 or ISO 100) that every other Exmor sensor has. However, they also still have the total sensor area advantage (which is the sole reason they still performed well before despite not having more DR...when downsampled (i.e. Print DR), all those extra pixels packed into additional sensor area were a huge bonus...they counteracted, on a normalized basis, the weaknesses of their older sensors....the same weaknesses that Canon sensors STILL HAVE!)