Send it in if it'll help ya sleep better at night... read this article http://www.canonrumors.com/tech-articles/this-lens-is-soft-and-other-myths/
It talks about how if the body is just slightly off and the lens is just slight off in the other directions, (but within the acceptable range of variance) then the amounts can seem dramatic. Also remember these can change slightly depending where you are and how much humidity, elevation, and frankly how much you use your lens and so the MA could be 15 one week, 18, the next, 10 the other. It's a moving target, however that's why they put that in there to begin with. Canon can definitely fine tune each and make sure they are closer to the sweet spot but dont forget even after that, the MA could change just to much even after, it's not really a defect in the lens as much as it's a change in the surrounding conditions affecting the lens. I hope this helps and I'm glad it's functioning a little bit more reliable than before.
Awin, thanks for the link - a good article indeed.
So let me ask you - do you think I'm being OCD? Too much of a pixel peeper? I guess I'm just having a hard time reconciling the performance of the 7D compared to my 40D where, with the same lenses, everything was sharp. Granted - that was 10MP vs. 18MP - so I realize some details were missing on the 40D. So perhaps it's not the best comparison.
What do you honestly think? Is it worth the send-in, or should I just leave it be?
UPDATE: I've just discovered that lighting plays a key role in the focusing accuracy issue on my 7D. In broad daylight, and well lit interiors, focus is almost spot on at +16 --- and VERY consistent. However, the misses start occurring in any kind of "less than perfect light". This is even in a moderately lit room, with some natural light. I did some tests in my office at work where I have some big fluorescent ceiling lights, and a large window. It's not "dark" by any means (especially on a day like today in Denver, where I'm getting a lot of sunlight), but it's definitely not broad daylight. In that scenario the misses start popping up, even when focusing on high contrast areas (e.g. book bindings on my bookshelf). It seams as when the light gets "flat", the AF system really starts to struggle... severely. But hard sunlight really helps for providing sharp and consistent focus. Anyone else have this experience?
justsomedude, I'm glad you found that link useful. To answer your questions, without with you or seeing your camera and lens and settings, it's hard to say either way. What do you shoot? Do you shoot at the high burst rates (8 frames a second) or do you have your burst rate the lower (3 frames a second) or single shot? What arsenal of lenses are you pairing with this lens? How old are the lenses? What focus modes are you using and what in what shooting conditions do you primarily shoot. Should I assume you shoot all manual or do you occasional switch to the green program mode or full auto mode?
To be honest, with my 7D, the lenses I pair 99% of the time with it is my sigma 10-20mm (architecture only), Canon 17-40 L (on my camera most of the time as a walk around lens), Canon 50mm 1.4 for portraiture and when I'm in extreme low light situations, and Canon 70-200 F4. Lenses I've also used with this camera either through Canon CPS or lenses i've sold were the sigma 135-400, Canon 24-70 L, Canon 24-105 L, Canon 35mm L, 50mm 1.2 and the 24mm TS. As far as shooting indoors low light, as with just about, try to use the widest aperture you have in your personal because the camera (all cameras) requires the most light possible to accurately get the AF motor to give the best results. 2.8, in some instances, can be not wide enough in which I break out the 50mm or borrow from CPS. That being said, I even have been able to get razor sharp images focused with my 17-40 of my son sleeping in the middle of the night with his light off with no lamp assist (trying not to wake him up) and the thing got focus even though I physically couldn't see squat through the viewfinder. That should be seen as an exception of the rule, but for what it's worth...
7D settings to keep in mind, I dont know offhand what number it is, but in your AF custom settings there's a setting on focus priority or speed priority (i have mine on focus priority) and also assuming you aren't shooting fast action, I would recommend using your spot focus with the small focus spot within the focus spot. When you need critical focus, that can be hard to the keep the camera steady with such a small focus spot, it's probably the most accurate. The regular single point focus is ok for 90% of the time. In motion or fast action I may bump it up to the single but 4 surrounding spots that looks like a plus sign. On the 9 point focus or the full auto af I'm sure it works good, however I have just enough OCD in me to know better.
As I said on several forums, when I got the camera (an early adopter) the first shots taken with it when I slapped on my 17-40 were OOF (defaulted at full auto). Not even close. But then I kinda dug into the manual, got settings the way I liked them, learned to cycle through the AF modes which wasn't as intuitive for me at first to learn, however I quickly enough learned to grasp that, and made sure my shutter and ISO were realistic then I was happy. At my kids daycare, I've had a contract to do the school spring and fall photos and used the same lab and over the scope of 3 years I have used the 30D for my first shoot, 50D for a year, then got the 7D and from the 30D to 50D, I never was blown away with the 50D prints... They were ok, but not as clean as the 30Ds, however with the 7D comparing to my 30D (RIP) there's no comparison, the 7D photos are far superior in focus, almost too good if you get my jest. Keep in mind between the 30D and 7D, the 7D will show far more imperfection in the lens and focus issues at 100% than the 30D could even hint at, so lens selection can be more critical.
Should you send yours in, only you can answer that. I cant be there with you however if you wish, feel free to email me if you want to talk more about the 7D and if you want to arrange a time for a call if you feel you need it. I dont know how much canon charges for a repair of the MA and MA of each lens in your set, and I believe you said you were an early adopter, so I assume your 7D is just out of warranty so whether you feel the cost would be worth it, I dont know.
On full disclosure, I shot a rock group at a local venue here at night with the horrible stage lights alternating between the 35mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.4 and while the 35mm L had more keepers than the 50mm 1.4 with the micro motor, the 50mm wasn't anything to sneeze at either. I would assume at that low light venue shooting at 1.4-1.8 I had a combined keeper rate of around 70-80% with a few front focused/rear focused and a few soft (not fast enough shutter, however not a camera problem, an operator problem). I would probably say that's a more realistic stress test for the 7D's auto focus, at most photos ranged from ISO 1000-1600.