Crunchy hot spots in HDR lit renders.

Has anyone else experienced this issue with Cycles? I’m not sure higher sampling gets rid of it and it may have something to do with the de-noise pass as it seems to appear after that.

If you are using the denoiser then try disabling “Glossy: Direct” in the Denoising panel settings.

You could also use a “clamp” value in the render tab (maybe 2 or 3) – but that may get rid of the highlights all together, which is something you probably don’t want.

I’ve had it, but only occasionally. Dunno what causes it, but I eventually went with high samples and no de-noising. A solution without clamping would be nice.

I guess for still images I can render with de-noise, and then do box selection render around problem area with higher samples and no de-noise and patch together in post. Thanks for the tips about clamp values.

In this case your solution of disabling Glossy Direct worked.