I've got a lvl 4 borg and lvl 7 vulcan at the moment and there is a difference in the quality of loot drops. Having said that, I remember experiencing pretty much the same thing in beta where I didn't start getting decent usable drops til lvl 7 or 8. I did notice when I teamed up with my g/f for some delta palvonis (sp) group fun, the loot seemed slightly better in a group than solo. That was also true in the open group quests i did, though of course you don't always get the drop.
I have gotten a couple non food/hypo drops that are useful, two sets of body armor, and a science console. Nothing to write home about. I am at LT5 atm, been hitting SB24 looking for easy ship drops with no joy.
At around Level 5 you start getting MK II quipment. Think of it as 1-5 MK I, 6-10 MK II, 11-15 MK III, etc. At Level 5 I got a MK II Quantum Torpedo, a MK II Quantum Mine Launcher, and a MK II Phaser Array just on the weapon's side. I got Corvariant Shields MK I, several Cosoles, and 4 different Deflectors all before I hit 10.
Drops do seem to have been scaled back a bit. I am Lt6 and in space I haven't had any kind of tactical station drop at all, and only gotten two ground weapons. Hopefully they will review the logs and change the drop tables...
Seems to fluctulate for me. I'll have a peirod of good loot drops and then it'll drop up and I'll get consumables (which I just sell). Got a bank full of decent ship equipment which will be used to outfit my tier 2 ship.
I dunno. I'll go hours at a time without finding anything but rations and hypos, and then suddenly I get to outfit all 4 of my BOFFs with shiny new laser rifles. I also can't remember getting any decent weapon upgrades on my Fed ship, but my Klink is armed to the teeth.
Not getting much loot here either. Some ground missions I get next to nothing. Others I get multiple weapons and armors. Seems to vary quite a bit. The Starbase 24 ground mission seems to be particularly good for ground drops. I've been mostly equiping and funding myself on the exchange. Fortunately people are a little more sane with their pricing. Though there are still a surprising number of standard issue phasers and such being sold for several thousand credits each.