Have you ever manipulated a low ISO D3x or D700 file and then gone an manipulated one from Canon? The difference is every bit as real as DxO says it is.
Yes I have. No it is not. Shoot a transmission step wedge with just about any body and compare your results with DxO. Then you'll understand why I laugh at their DR claims.
You should take a look at the videos on this page:http://testcams.com/blog/2011/05/03/nikon-dx-vs-canon-aps-c-dynamic-range/
DXO's results are absolutely real. It boils down to noise floor, and Sony sensors have the lowest floor of any on the market today...by more than two full stops above and beyond what Canon has to offer. The scenario in the link above is not as rare as it may seem. I shoot wildlife and birds a lot, and when it comes to most of the wildlife I shoot...the deer family and canines, they are usually out during golden hour. There isn't much light during that time of day, and the necessity of pushing exposure in post is frequent. I've encountered the read-noise banding issue demonstrated in the videos from the link above frequently...its a detail destroyer like you wouldn't believe, and its impossible to eliminate without significant downscaling. Increasing ISO helps reduce the read noise (for some reason read noise drops as ISO increases with Canon designs), however every stop of ISO increase is also a stop of DR loss, so its a trade-off.
You can see the difference in read noise levels at sensorgen.info:Nikon D7000:http://sensorgen.info/NikonD7000.html
Consistent read noise at 3 e-
Mostly linear drop in DR as ISO increases
Max DR at 14 stops (13.9 really), dropping to 12.6, 11.7, 10.7, etc. as ISO increasesCanon 7Dhttp://www.sensorgen.info/CanonEOS_7D.html
Max read noise of 8.6 e- (almost three times that of Nikon)
Average read noise of 3 e- after increasing ISO by three stops
Loss of DR for ISO 100 and ISO 200, ISO 400 is right on the money, ISO 800 loses 1 stop as expected
Max DR at 11.2 stops at ISO 100, 200, and 400Canon 5D IIhttp://www.sensorgen.info/CanonEOS_5D_MkII.html
Max read noise of 27.8 e- (almost 10 times that of Nikon!!)
Loss of DR through the first four ISO levels, 100-800
Max DR of 11.2 stops at ISO 100, less than expected DR at ISO 200, 400
(NOTE: The 5D II can somewhat handle the higher read noise at low ISO because its pixel capacity is higher than either the D7000 or the 7D because its Full Frame. There are still a lot of complaints about the 5D II's banded read noise though, so its still a visible problem.)
I think the main point of this thread isn't that we want to shoot the sunset without filters and expect perfect exposure from shadows to the sun itself. I think what people are wanting is Canon to produce a sensor with DR that other manufacturers have already achieved.
LOL! No one else has achieved this.
See KeithR's posts for dramatic examples of recovery on Canon's 18 MP sensor. Nikon's 16 MP sensor is better than this, but not by much, certainly not by the amount people make it out to be.
Why don't you take a look at the videos in the link above. Sony (and Nikon via Sony sensors) HAVE INDEED achieved better DR and FAR, FAR lower read noise than Canon. The difference is unbelievable. For many photographers, it may not matter, but for those who shoot in lower light, and bleed from their eyes every time they work a photo in post and have to apply an ungodly amount of noise reduction, watching their precious detail disappear as they do so...it matters a LOT.
Go back to the introduction date of the 7D, the first body with Canon's new 18 MP sensor. I'm pretty sure at that moment Canon had the widest DR crop sensor. Whoever has the newest sensor is likely to have the lowest noise / widest DR until a newer one comes out.
Yes, but that was three years ago! Canon hasn't innovated a sensor since (except the 1D X sensor, which we still have yet to see if it improved DR and read noise or not. It could be exactly the same as its always been, without any improvement at all!
) It's been three years since Canon put something other than the same old 18mp sensor in any camera other than their 1D line (and the 1D IV still has the same read-noise banding that all of Canon's other sensors have...search for one of the many 1D IV noise videos on Vimeo for real-world examples.) Post-process shadow recovery is has become an important part of photography for many photographers...not just from the standpoint of fixing a botched exposure, but for those who simply don't have available light, can't or choose not to use flash (for obvious reasons), and need shadow recovery in post to fully realize the shot they took.
It is indeed possible to build a sensor that is capable of using over 99% of the theoretical dynamic range possible with 14-bit data. Sony's done it, they've been doing it for a couple years, and there are many visual examples that prove the point on the net if you care to actually see actual evidence of the difference. For those who know of the issue, and for those to whom it matters, Canon will really start losing business
over the next couple of years if they continue to demonstrate an inability or lack of desire to fix the problem in the face of the innovation their competition is showing.