The cost of the camera is not an issue here. Even the $7000 cameras cannot help what is going on here. It is the PROCESSING of the image that is being called into question.
As others have said, to each his own, but please, do you really think most pictures on this thread are worth the band width they take up to get them here?
Sure, everyone starts out on Photomatix ramping up the sliders to the max, I certainly had my share of those, but after awhile most learn to reduce the cartoonish effects that 100% sliders give you.
Take the bracketed photos and try processing them at default settings. You can then choose between the more realistic photos that capture detail in both sky and shadows or play with the different presets that give different looks. I'd suggest that most reserve the more special effects for just the occasional photo.
OK, flame shield on.