Ok, I get you, Neuro. Yeah I pay no attention whatsoever to DXO's 'Sensor Score'.
2. by bias I am saying the assumption/pre-condition DXO sets up might be biased. In other words, Nikon un-intentionally take advantage of it.
That's an interesting conspiracy theory and one, I must admit, I didn't discount earlier on much like yourself. But, if this were true, then:
- Nikon shadows raised in post would appear blurry due to noise reduction. They do not.
- Whatever processing you suspect Nikon DSP may be doing can be replicated on the RAW Canon file in post. Clipping, noise reduction, you name it. Varying the clipping point (e.g. 2047 for 5D3) doesn't change the point at which the response curve on a log scale 'toes' (bottom of hockey stick), so that irrelevant IMHO. It does 'clean up' the shadows by making the signal go to 0 (black) quicker and the noise drop (standard deviation goes from 5 to 1.4 for the darkest patch as you go from 2047 to 2057 for the black clipping point; I wrote some code to quickly analyze these types of questions so I've tried a number of things but cannot replicate the cleanliness of the D7000 dark patches)... but that doesn't magically increase the SNR or change the point at which the curve toes. Meanwhile, the darkest patch on the D7000 still has SNR>1. Maybe what we could do is apply noise reduction to shadows on the Canon file to see if we can better SNR in those dark patches; however, again, I don't think that's magically going to change the point at which the curve toes (i.e., the point at which the sensor no longer accurately record the scene luminance changes). But I'll try this in my analysis just to ease such concerns.
3. I agree with you on the D7000 low noise performance, although I don't know if it comes from the circuit or the DSP. I doubt Canon can not do this. They just don't do as Nikon. Canon's approach seems different and hurts the result at low light which is not appreciated by me.
Like I said, I doubt this to be true b/c if it were then with enough image processing you'd be able to make the Canon shadows look like the Nikon shadows. Fred Miranda's, or any of a number of other reviewers', comparison demonstrate that there's just no way in heck you could clean up the Canon shadows to get the levels of detail/cleanliness present in the D800. You can't magically create detail. If the transitions from patches 35-42 on my 13.2 stop wedge are completely lost in noise in the Canon file, you can't magically get those transitions back with noise reduction (i.e. create detail).
But I guess to convince you I could try heavy noise reduction & then quantitation to see if it helps mitigates the deviation from the model (of what patches 35-42 should be). I can almost guarantee right now it won't.