We're preparing to do an interior foley-type recording session that requires extremely low self-noise microphones. Schoeps? DPA? Earthworks? Your opinions are appreciated!
All hail Rob Danielson for posting these specs. These are pure specs, but check it out: CAD ES100S with a theoretical 3.7dBA self-noise level! :-) Not every available mic is mentioned, but this list is authored to describe what might be the best nature recording mics (as per Chuck's point, above), primary above all else is low self-noise.
I understand that the Earthworks are "true" and "transparent," but their small condenser elements are a wee bit noisy - they're not on this chart. I have not used the Earthworks, though, and they have lots to recommend them besides their self-noise level.
Me? I use an MKH50/30 pair in the field for MS ambience and nature recording. They are simply amazing, noise-wise.
The Lewitt LCT540 has the quietest specs I've seen available in a commercial mic.
Not extensive by any means, but I've got a comparison experiment up on my website: http://www.dynamicinterference.com/2010/08/11/noise-floor-tests-the-big-guns/
The AKG C414 XLS features 6 dB of self noise and reaches 20 KHz with a 0.2 dB attenuation when the rode is already at minus 4 dB.
I have tried the CAD ES100s alongside a Rode NT1a........ The Rode is much quieter. I sent the CAD back and got a replacement thinking it might have been faulty but the replacement was still noisier than the NT1a. Data sheets can mis-lead but they also only give you part of the story. I find most Rodes that I have tried to be a bit harsh.