You can make the argument that better DR may make your life easier.
I don't mean to sound elitist, but this isn't something to be taken lightly. If you're taking photos for fun, I can see how spending 1 minute in post production to extend the DR of an image vs. spending 10 minutes isn't a big deal. However, if you're working on a tight deadline, need to process six dozen images to present to a client, and your livelihood depends on the quality of your images, out-of-camera files that "make your life easier" in post production isn't a luxury, it's a necessity.
Obviously, this doesn't only apply to DR, but also noise, sharpness, color reproduction, contrast, etc. It all adds up, and any time you can save in post production is time you can be spending behind the lens and making more money. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be shooting than staring into a computer screen and fiddling with a mouse
Certainly, I don't disagree. However, if your spending that much time tweaking every single photo one at a time, your not using modern post-processing tools effectively. Lightroom, for example, supports per-camera import profiles that can automatically apply default processing to every file you import.
In the case of my 7D, it has a bit of an aggressive low-pass filter so it always needs a little sharpening, and I prefer to import with flat tone curves and the Canon Neutral profile (amongst other things.) I simply took one photo, applied my base adjustments, and created an import profile based on that images adjustments. Every image I import from my 7D gets a fairly significant set of standard adjustments that prepare my photos for a little more tweaking. I also created a couple presets named after the camera model and intention of the preset (such as "Canon 7D 1EV ETTR", "Canon 7D 2EV ETTR", etc.) which can be applied at the click of a button to apply further adjustments automatically to correct for how I may have used ETTR on any given photo. If all the photos in a set need the same preset, I can apply on import, otherwise I can apply it to a single photo, individually select any others that need the same preset, and sync settings. However the presets are applied, its always fast, and the remainder of per-photo tweaks are the same tweaks you might need to do if you had better shadow recovery built into the camera.
Just because to change your approach to utilize the capabilities of a camera better does not mean you have to spend an extra, inordinate amount of time in post "compensating" for the "deficiencies" of your gear. Just like you need to know how to use your gear, you should also know how to use your post-processing tools. If you ARE spending a tremendous amount of time in post adjusting your photos, then you can save yourself a LOT of time by learning your post-process software as well as you know your gear. So I entirely agree...minimize time spent in post; what camera you have has no bearing on that.
If you regularly find yourself dragging up the shadows, then you might as well jump ship and head over to Nikon where the grass is greener. Or you could ETTR, utilize the sensor DR better (Canon does seem to have a bit more highlight headroom than Nikon by about 1/2 a stop based on DPR charts), and correct exposure at the click of a button in post
I would certainly hope that anyone attempting to earn a living with Canon gear utilizes a technique as simple as ETTR Like you said, Canon files are incredibly good at highlight recovery, which makes ETTR a very useful tool in extending DR. My point is that over time, everyone is going to learn tricks like ETTR, or something as basic as using reflectors, fill light, multiple exposures, etc to extend DR. You're going to do that regardless of whether you shoot Canon or Nikon. Ultimately, however, a file with more latitude right "out of the box" will help you create the best image possible.
Sure, more latitude is always better. I don't think thats been the debate, though...at least, not as I've seen it. The tone here is less extreme over at DPR, but there are a lot of people who seem to literally be freaking out as thought the 5D III is a complete flop and a totally worthless excuse for a camera because of one single aspect that Nikon and Sony do better...and better only really at a low technical level...the gap is minor in terms of real-world performance. Everyone wants more DR, but 2.5 stops more on a technical level boils down to less than a stop in real-world difference, which kind of makes all the worry rather moot in the grand scheme of things. Its a lot more effective to just buy a reflector, or a fill light, or use multiple exposures, etc. than to wait a whole extra generation before upgrading, or incurring the excessive cost of switching brands. If you have DR limitations, light the scene properly, or slap on a GND.
I'm not quite sure how this thread turned into a talk about DR, but DR is just one of MANY factors that determine IQ.
Dunno...I responded to something a while back about DR. DR seems to be what people care about most.
Even if the D800 proves to have better DR than the 5DIII in the real world, I can just as easily decide that I hate it due to color reproduction, contrast, and sharpness that aren't my cup of tea. I remember the first shoot I did with the 5DC. I was blown away by the film-like image quality of the files. It was like I was shooting color slides again, and the color, contrast, and sharpness were simply stunning. I'd never seen such incredible IQ on any digital camera before. I didn't care how its DR or ISO measured on some on chart posted by some geek on the internet. The images just had that certain look and feel to them that I cherished, and at the end of the day, that's all that mattered. IMHO, that's why you have to try these things out in the real world before determining a winner.
+1 Couldn't agree with all of that more. We can presume to know all we want, but real-world performance is all that really matters. Regardless of how we may all feel about the low-level technical statistics...one thing has been pretty constant for all Canon, Nikon, and Sony cameras the last 4 years: they get better every time they are upgraded. Its highly doubtful the 5D III will perform worse than the 5D II, and based on the samples so far (most of which are from pre-production models), I'd be quite happy with any one of the newly released cameras (money being no object.) I don't think any of them would produce anything either me, my customers, or even an editor of a publication couldn't be happy with. Even if they were...I'd blame the photographer, not the camera.