Ok, here goes. To start with I am using blender 2.45 with python 2.5 on Windows XP X64 edition. I have two probelms which may or may not be related. Firstly, my raytraced shadows are not properly soft. I have a model of a glass marble on a plane, which should have raytaced shadows, however, the shadow cast on the plane has a hard edge. If I’m correct I should have some level of soft shadows wherever I use an area lamp, or at least I should have the option to, but I have tried all the settings and I don’t. Yafray does render soft shadows, but they’re grainy as heck (I could figure out how to fix that) and it doesn’t render the marble correctly. (I have one transparent material inside of another, again, a boolean operation would probably fix it but i’m lazy and it works find in Blender’s internal rendering engine…) My second issue is with Depth of Field, which I tried using for the first time today. I cannot use depth of field normally. I have set the parameters for the camera, set up my nodes correctly, but while I have the image’s Z buffer (The renderer IS doing a Z pass I checked… Maybe its not being buffered…) connected to the defocus function nothing happens. However, when I use a fixed Z. I can use perfect or sampled blurring, which works in this case, except that now I can’t get that Z value to focus. In any case, I would like to be able to use the aperture setting, and to get proper soft shadows, neither of which I can currently do. Thanks for reading the uber long post.

Hey, here’s how it goes. Ray traced shadows are hard unless you’re using area lights with rayshadows selected. then its like real light that diffuses as it gets farther from the casting object. About DOF. You need to set up the nodes and the dof distance in camera settings. click on limits and then move the dof till the crosshair’s where you want the focus to be. then in nodes with the defocus node connect the stuff. unclick the NoZbuffer and drag fstop down to like 8 to see some sweet dof action. if it doesnt work still let me know. oh and unclick preview to get full quality too. Blend on!

Oh and welcome to blenderartists!

You can also cheat the system by blurring the shadow map with the nodes.

Thanks for the tips. Im mostly concerned about defocusing right now, and, as my post says, I did the things you mentioned 'zoz… Any additional thoughts?

This build has soft raytraced shadows, and glossy relections refractions:

OK, I can finally bring this thread to a close. I never did find a solution to the problem per se, but I did buy a new computer, An IBM T61, (C2D T7300) running Vista Basic X86, which was a nice upgrade from my Ath64 3200+, and, surprise, I wasn’t doing anything wrong, the new computer does soft shadows and defocusing perfectly with all the same settings I was using before. Weird.