You don't produce images with sensors, you produce them with camera systems.
You produce images in front of the camera.
This is done through composition, directing the subject or going to the right place at the right time.
Once the image is there to be photographed, THE LENS creates the image.
The sensor or film records that image. The recording is probably the most critical point of the process,
because it is what saves the image in time.
The camera (the box) itself is a facilitator rendering it easier or more functional to make this recording correctly.
In fluid situations the camera can dramatically change the recording possibilities.
The raw processor is simply the developing stage of the process, however it cannot produce dynamic range from this air.
It can only work with the recorded data.
On the other had there are methods of chemically developing film that alter dynamic range. For example the water batch process
for developing black and white film. However this process still has to work with the "recording" made during exposure.
While the lens is what creates the optical image... the projection of what is in front of the camera the recording device is
critical to a good result.
Many try to reduce the importance of dynamic range to how much you can pull out of the shadows, but it is more than that.
The more range you have the more recording capability you have. The more that is recorded the more flexibility you have later.
Another very significant improvement in sensor design is live view. Proper live view that is high quality and real time allows the photographer
to see things directly that would otherwise not be seen and would have to be predicted. It is also very effective if not essential to critical focus.
Another example of how useful it can be is shooting black and white. On many cameras you can set the camera to record black and white jpegs, but still record color raw files.
At the same time the camera can show you PROCESSED black and white in live view.
This is of particular importance if you are intending to do some heavy color filtration in the black and white conversion process.
Sometime certain skin tones can react strangely to strong color filtrations and it can be even worse with makeup.
While I still shoot a lot of film I will often use a digital camera as an advanced light meter and "scene analyzer" of sorts and polaroid replacement.
We have gone a long way form the simple ground glass screen, but at the same time there is a certain magic in looking at the image on
a ground glass screen... even if it is backwards and upside down