Very interesting to see all of the replies. I am beginning to come to the conclusion that this camera isn't for me... but I'm left wondering where to go. On paper the 7D looked like the ideal camera for me: it's got the "pro" features I want in an EFS package. But now it seems like not only can I not upgrade to the 7D... but the 60D and T3i are out (same sensor).
I suppose I'm just going to have to continue with my XSi for now.
As for not mentioning that I'm a landscape photographer... that was definitely an omission on my part. After reading everything about this camera I don't fault the people that told me to snag it... there are _many_ happy customers with this camera. I just think it's not right for me.
I think that "catz" post is the most relevant to my situation. I am often pushing my RAW files to the edge to get more detail / color / contrast out of them. If the 7D sensor is not making RAW files amenable to that then it's not for me. What is a real travesty is that this camera has great features for a landscape photographer: multiple custom settings, built in level, awesome metering, etc.
As for "pixel peeping". I don't think that's what I'm doing. Anyone who looked at those photos I posted should be disgusted. I didn't do _any_ exposure adjustment at all and just a tad bit of sharpening (not even close to as much as I typically would for a landscape shot). The exposure is spot on... fully covering the range in every channel (yay evaluative exposure on 7D! My XSi would have trouble doing that with even this shot ;-)
If I try to crop this photo down _at all_ I can see the noise with the full photo being displayed (ie not zooming in) on my 27" iMac. And that's doing a pretty small amount cropping (like only including the whole church). If I go any further, like just the front half of the church... it looks like I took this photo at ISO 800+! How anyone shooting landscapes would think that is acceptable is beyond me. I've cropped ISO 100-200 photos from my XSi _way_ down and been satisfied with the results (and I didn't have to apply any NR at all!).
Here is a screenshot of what I'm seeing on my screen: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7166/6482020907_8689f39356_o.jpg
Bottom line: $1,500 for RAW files that you can't "push around" at all and having to apply NR at ISO 100-200 is completely unacceptable to me.
Like I mentioned, I'm still going to give it a go this weekend and see what the results are... but at this point I'm not expecting it to be good...
Thanks again for everyone taking the time to reply! This has been extremely insightful!
The 7D is a fine camera. I put my RAW files through quite a bit and they look great. I have a few issues with some of the things but I've learned to eliminate the issue or work around it. I think there could be something wrong with your 7D. But I wouldn't write off the entire 7D line for your use. It's the best crop body out right now. Period.