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I found the following posts helpful:
...Most likely you are seeing normal noise due to dense pixels on a small sensor. ... With my 7D I need to use NR even at low ISO if I'm printing large and/or have lots of skies or shadows.
You can reduce noise a bit by disabling the highlight enhancing and even illumination modes. They really make noise worse. Also, I've found ISO 160, 320, 640 and 120 to be much cleaner than ISO 200, 400, 800 and 1600,
Jeff Nolten wrote:
...the 7D sensor is touchier than my 40D for requiring the correct exposure and working the noise reduction in post. I assume you are shooting RAW. Its a high density sensor so you are working closer to the edge but overall its a net gain over previous sensors.
...when I had a 7D the noise was so bad that I was convinced there was a legitimate issue. ISO 100 looked as grainy as 3200, it was clearly noticeable. Canon agreed and they replaced the sensor in that camera, which dramatically improved the quality. At least to a level that I felt was appropriate for the density of the sensor.
As is common with most digital SLR's, underexposure increases the apparent noise in the image. When photographing birds against a blue sky, it is a challenge to strike the right balance between exposing for the bird and exposing for the sky. With the 7D, it is imperative that you expose as far to the right as you can w/out clipping the highlights. Failure to do so will increase the "patchiness" that appears in blue skies. ...Expose to the right and don't evaluate for noise while viewing at 100%... unless you plan on printing a 40" images.
When I first got my 7D I was very disappointed at the amount of noise present even at ISO 200-400. ...The saviour was found with Lightroom 3, this has revolutionised the noise issue with the simple noise reduction slider.
I found the following posts not only not helpful, but condescending and inflammatory:
The only noise issues with the 7D are people thinking that it should have clean images at 6400.
...if you can't find the 7d "usable", then pretty much no camera is going to be "usable" for you.
It's not limited to this thread. RobertLynn = [Hide Me]