Read again... I wasn't blowing these "up to 200%". I am looking at the whole photo on my screen. Not zooming at all (ie I can see the edges of the photo). I am _not_ "pixel peeping" (I am _not_ looking at the photos at 1:1 with my screen. Just viewing the photo like anyone would.
But you've also said you're cropping, and the mix of terminology and lack of details leaves people confused as to what the final magnification is.
The screenshot you posted that I took a look at showed roughly the same view I see at 100% (1:1, i.e. pixel peeping) on my screen. The noise looks the same as well, and while it's there, it's certainly not Earth shattering. I know that noise looks worse on a typical Apple screen with typical settings. But, again, this is 100%, roughly equivalent to a 50-60" print. No small format DSLR is noise free at that size.
Everyone: Print is only one final avenue for my prints. Most often they are enjoyed on high resolution monitors.
Viewing the entire original jpeg on my screen is 50% magnification. I see no noise at that scale.
The point is that I paid $1500 and am receiving _inferior_ quality at ISO 100-200 to the camera I bought 3 years ago for $700. THAT IS NOT GOOD.
No you're not. You're not viewing them at the same scale, and you're viewing images that, due to other issues, are not exhibiting the fine detail the 7D is capable of.
For my purposes (and for others who are interested in landscape photography) this body does not work.
I've got a couple 22" portfolios that say differently. And I know a landscape photographer who shoots DSLRs, MF, and 4x5. He has said that through 24" it's extremely hard for him to tell the difference between his 7D shots and his 4x5 shots, and that he will grab his 7D before grabbing his FF (12 MP) for landscape work.
I can't even believe how far some people go to justify this stuff.
Nobody is justifying it. We're simply pointing out that people do not expect 60" views out of small format cameras. Not any currently shipping small format camera. Not the 5D2 or D3x, and I wouldn't expect it out of the 1Dx either. If you actually make 60" prints, you need a larger format or stitching.
There is no way I could keep this camera with this output for landscape photography. The first time I wanted to do a 25% crop (by which I mean crop down to a piece of the photo that is taking up approximately 25% of the original space) of a once in a lifetime photo SHOT AT ISO 100 I would want to blow my brains out.
Do I understand you to mean that you would take a 1296x864 crop out of the full file? That's a 1.1 MP image. You can't expect to view or print a 1.1 MP image at 27". 5x7 would be about the limit if there's any fine detail.
Do you mean a 4.5 MP image? 8x10 or maybe 11x17, depending on subject and shot quality.
Do you really shoot, crop out 25% of your images, and view/print at 27"? How could you be satisfied with any small format DSLR doing this? Why not just frame the photo the way you want it to appear?
When shooting at low ISO you should NEVER have to apply NR (or at least not much depending on how much you've cropped) and you should feel free to crank up the sharpness. Anything less is unacceptable.
Whether or not I apply NR at low ISO depends on the subject, exposure, and how hard I've pushed the RAW file. As for sharpening, well, I'm careful about it, but definitely fall on the sharp side. Nothing I print goes without both LCE and some sharpening.