Aaron, thanks for the detailed feedback!
I discussed this with Axis and here's my understanding. As you note, there are 2 modes - WDR and Lightfinder. Those modes are mutually exclusive. If WDR is on, Lightfinder goes off (and vice versa). By default, WDR is on.
Axis suggests setting up an event to toggle between those modes. For instance, based on the cut filter status or use an I/O attached to photocell. This would enable WDR during the day when it is most needed and Lightfinder at night, when it is most useful.
That said, there is no single button / checkbox (like there is in Sony) to turn WDR off. However, if you set up an event that will deliver a similar outcome.
I do think the best 'default' would be WDR on during the day and off at night. There are certainly some applications that would not want this but I believe those would be the exceptions.
Steve, interesting observation about the artifacts creating motion events. I am assuming that's with WDR on at night?