Our testing shows that Canon's EOS 80D features a sensor with greatly improved Raw dynamic range. The results appear to confirm the company has moved to a new sensor design with lower read noise.
Previous Canon sensors have conducted the analogue to digital conversion step away from the sensor, an approach that contributed noise that limited dynamic range at low ISO settings (while still allowing the excellent high ISO performance that Canon's CMOS chips built a reputation with). The sensors in the EOS 80D and EOS-1D X Mark II appear to have an on-chip ADC design that conducts the conversion within the sensor, shortening the electronic path and preventing this noise building up. Let's take a look at the 80D's Raw DR performance in a couple of our studio tests.
In this test we look to see how tolerant of pushing exposure the 80D's Raw files are. We've done this by exposing our scene with increasingly lower exposures, then pushed them back to the correct brightness using Adobe Camera Raw. Examining what happens in the shadows allows you to assess the exposure latitude (essentially the dynamic range) of the Raw files.
Because the changes in this test noise are primarily caused by shot noise and this is mainly determined by the amount of light the camera has had access to, the results are only directly comparable between cameras of the same sensor size. However, this will also be the case in real-world shooting if you're limited by what shutter speed you can keep steady, so this test gives you an idea of the amount of processing latitude different formats give.
As you can see, the 80D is contributing less noise to its images than the 70D did, and this difference will be evident when you try to pull shadows up. It isn't quite a match for the, but it's enough that in real-world use, the files should have similar - if not slightly more - processing flexibility than the , despite the latter's larger sensor!