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I have had a 5D2 for 3 years and Just this year bought a refurbed 7D, for the extra reach for bird photography. Like you I was immediately struck by the 'soft' but actually in focus images. They looked like my 5D2 images viewed at 200%. At ISO 200, the images were pretty good, but at ISO 640 and over, they just looked coarse and seemed to have good mid level detail, but really lacked 'edge' Sharpening just brings up noise and NR just smears. I have had very few images that really have any of the 'edge that 5D2 images have. If downsized to 9Mp, the images begin to have that 'edge'. I really think that the camera at ISO has so much in camera NR interpolation, that it is not really a 18MP camera, except for ISOs 200-400, which is why I never use any ISO above 640.
All the very fine looking images on this and other forums, are 18mp images downsized to 1Mp and then have sharpening applied. All look totally noise free and have the'edge'. No one shows a 100% crop of the original unprocessed image. They just accuse one of pixel peeping, if one asks.
Your reaction to seeing 7D images after those from a 1D is an honest and true reaction. My camera has been back to Canon twice and Canon tell me that the camera 'is what it is'.
So don't use ISOs above 640, try to fill the frame to avoid cropping, expose accurately and DON'T PIXEL PEEP, as the truth will hurt.