The reason I changed to screen is Dynamic Range doesn't change with the number of megapixels.
I agree, this gives us the best, and IMO, proper way to test low level sensor performance. It is the closest to the original data
What happens after normalizing to some standard size print is a different result, not necessarily meaningless or irrelevant, but certainly of no use when comparing just sensor performance, an electronics and processing issue.
Normalizing for Dynamic Range simply hides the fact that DxOMark can't fully decode the CR2 files, by making it look like their Dynamic Range reading is changing when it isn't...
Whether the D700 or 5D Mk II is better is an extraneous argument that has nothing to do with the fact that DxOMark cannot fully decode the CR2 file..
I still don't understand why and how you conclude 3rd party raw converters are missing some ability to properly decode Canon's CR2 files. Please explain
The big difference I've found between them is more to do with de-Bayering and Noise Reduction. There, DxO and Lightroom used to do a slightly better job compared to DPP from my experience. Latest DPP actually seems to provide more image (color) detail than DxO but DPP still lags both in NR performance.
Also, the CR2 file produced by a Canon G11 or G12, which, AFAIK, is a SONY sensor equipped camera, exhibits a DR curve more like a Nikon than a Canon, complete with excellent base
ISO DR about equal to any current Canon DSLR. Pretty good for tiny pixels!
The only tests I’ve seen that ‘prove’ DxOMark focus on the shadow end and show that using a 3rd party RAW decoder you can pull more shadow detail out of D800 or other Sony sensored cameras. Shadow recover is shadow recovery, and only addresses half of the Dynamic Range of the camera, which includes highlight retention too.
I somewhat agree, highlite retention ability is part of the equation.
However, total DR is a ratio of the highest recordable EV (hilite) to the lowest recordable EV (deep shadow). Since the lowest recordable EV depends on the Signal to Noise Ratio being set at some arbitrary, but useful limit, below which noise obscures image data, this is the more important end of the DR range. SNR at hilites is very high so not a factor unless you're evaluating IQ of very small pixel sensors, which we're not.
These deep shadows are where Canon's sensors have trouble with read noise intruding on their signal. It's an electronics design issue. They chose a particular compromise which works very well except it loses at the shadow end.
I’ve seen no tests that compare the dynamic range of a 5D Mk III using DPP as the RAW converter.
I see the same deep shadow pattern noise in my Canon raw files no matter what raw converter I use, and I normally use DPP for basic processing.
The next difference I find is that Canon's DPP doesn't provide the same tone-curve controls Lightroom or even DxO have, so it's not as simple to bring up the shadow areas in DPP to see the noise - but it's still there. DPP seems to process the shadow end a little darker than the other converters, which minimizes the appearance of the noise.
When I process for printing I like to bring the shadow areas up a bit more to retain some shadow detail in the final print, and that's when the patterned and banded noise structures of Canon's raw files show up and sometimes cause problems. The more you have to bring them up (sunlit landscapes = more DR) the more likely the problem with the shadow areas.
E.G. I recently used my 5D2 with a 580EX II flash for fill to do some outdoor family portraits, mix of sun and cloud day. 3 of 4 people in the group wore pants of varying shades of dark gray.
In DPP, I added +1 EV to correct for overall exposure on the subjects because a strongly backlit sky threw off my basic exposure more than I'd planned. (I don't normally shoot outdoor portraits in rapidly changing sky conditions) I still had to blow out the sky to get good exposure on the subjects.
That's only ONE stop of push, and even in DPP there's clearly banding noise visible on 2 of the darker pants, the noise exhibiting both vertical and horizontal banding and plenty of chroma noise. This isn't even processing the dark levels up to where I'd normally prefer them yet.
I export those files to 16-bit TIFF to continue to work in Photoshop to do the usual touchups.
When I try to lift the dark tones of those pants slightly more I cannot, the banding noise becomes objectionable. So that's a tiff file, exported by DPP, which is the de-facto decoder of Canon's raw file, still exhibiting strong noise in the shadows with only +1 EV of push.
Does this matter?
Well, i can make a shot like this work for a family portrait that the customer finds acceptable at the print sizes they want.
If I were to print it 30" wide then the pattern noise on the pants would be something I would see.
Compare this to sunlit landscape shots I recently took with my D800 where I want to retain ALL the scene detail, from textures in bright white clouds to textural detail in the charcoal of a burned tree, in the shade. I manually expose using the old Sunny 16 thumbrule. 1/500s @ f/8 & ISO 100. Considering the D800's ISO is about a half stop less than what it says, I could have exposed at least another 1/3 EV and still retained highlite details.
The resulting image from shooting such a scene has the remainder of the landscape very dark and the charred area pretty much black.
In Lightroom or Photoshop (ACR) I can then lift those shadow areas NUMEROUS EV, to the point where I can now see detail in the shaded area of the charcoal! And guess what?... NO noise. No banding of any kind, not even a spec of noise and that's with the usual 25/100 default chroma NR setting set to ZERO.
I didn't have to recover lost hilite detail because I already exposed to retain it near the camera's maximum.
This means this camera produces FAR cleaner shadows than a Canon. So I'm not surprised it's DR is rated a few stops better using the existing testing methodology. There's no way in Hades I could process an image like this if I shot it with my 5D2!
Ergo, I have to agree with DxO that the D800 provides considerably more real world usable dynamic range than a 5D Mark II.
Anyone want to BUY a super clean, barely used 5D2?... I really don't know why I'm keeping it any longer.