maybe it is time you actually trusted your own eyes!
IMO a P21 is better then any canon or nikon at base iso...i am talking about file quality, clarity, color, ability to be enlarged (rez'd up)...this is not even a question to me....
the question is if the difference in quality makes up all the deficiencies in handling, price, storage, speed, high iso shooting,.....this is something everybody has to find out for themselves and i owuld say that for 95% of all photographic application the choice is very clear...in favor of DSLR, regardless of the ultimate file quality....
I think everyone who might question the significance of the image quality differences between a DB and a 35mm DSLR of similar pixel count
, is a person who really does trust his own eyes. It's because he trusts his own eyes and hasn't seen a demonstration of such differences that he becomes a bit skeptical of claims of quality differences.
There seems to be a dilemma here. People go to a lot of trouble comparing lens resolution. For example, should I get the Canon 17-40 or the Canon 16-35? The performance of different format cameras is scrutinised in great detail on review sites such as dpreview and compared. People often make all sorts of claims for the equipment they have just bought which on close examination prove to be either exaggerated or non-existent.
The new Canon 40D is a good example of what I'm referring to. It has lots of new and attractive features that don't exist on previous models, yet fundamental image quality is basically the same as the models it replaced. Despite 14 bit processing, shadow noise improvement is so marginal it needs to be viewed at 400% on the monitor to be seen. Resolution improvement is similarly marginal, yet some people like to kid themselves there is a definite an obvious image quality improvement.
When it is pointed out to such people that careful and thorough reviews have not discovered any significant image quality improvement, such people then resort to the 'color' defense argument. The 40D produces more natural and more accurate colors. The colors from the 30D really suck... and so on.
Now you don't need to convince me that a larger sensor will have a dynamic range advantage. That is the one quality factor which I wouldn't argue against because I've seen the difference. If I'm shooting a contrasty scene with some subject movement, when bracketing of exposures is not practical, I might prefer to use a 20mp DB rather than a 1Ds3. However, for scenes that are well within the DR capabilities of both cameras, I would expect any image quality differences to be either lens dependent or processing dependent.