Just to hammer the point home, I'll give some examples of my experiences which lead me to believe that color negative has no worse DR than a DSLR and possibly better in real, practical terms. Unfortunately, I have not compared the identical scenes, so I admit my methodology is flawed in this respect.
The following shot was taken with Kodak ISO 100 film. It was so long ago I can't remember if I used a tripod or relied upon IS. The general lack of 'tack sharpness' would suggest I didn't use a tripod.
If I'd taken this shot with a 5D, I would expect to see unacceptable noise in the dark foreground when adjusting the images as follows.
A few days after buying my 5D and 24-105mm lens as a package, I discovered on the net there was a known flare problem with the lens. The following shot was an attempt to discover the flare problem. I didn't succeed and have since never come across any flare problem that doesn't look like normal flare from any lens.
However, what I did discover in this experiment was a disappointing shadow performance of the 5D at ISO 100. At some point, the image becomes very degraded in a manner which I haven't seen with color negative film.
Below is the 5D shot I'm referring to. Conversion was minus 1.5EC to recover blown highlights. That wasn't possible. The brightest spots are completely blown. There's nothing blown in the negative scan. There's nothing that's 255,255, 255. There's nothing that has even a single 255, and there's nothing that has a 233, 233, 233, or 244, 244, 244, or 254, 254, 254 etc. I take that as meaning; no blown highlights in the negative scan.
The following shot was converted with shadows at zero, EC at minus 1.5 and contrast at minus 50.
The adjusted image is going to leave some substantail areas dark, not only for esthetic reasons but also because shadow detail is crap.
What's detail like in that dark band of foliage stretching across the middle right? Not too good.
1. The scenes are different although similar in light intensities. Definitely a flaw in methodology there.
2. However, the film scan has no blown highlights. The 5D shot does, despite a minus 1.5EC correction.
PS. Forgot to mention. If anyone's interested, the film scan shot is of Cunningham's gap, not far from my studio, SE Queensland, Australia. The inferno on the right is probably where I'll go when I die. (Just joking! I kid myself I'm destined for heaven ).