I’ve got a beginner question re lighting methods. What’s the best type of light to use with the cycles renderer?
Some youtube videos show people using 2d planes with emission materials on them as lights but another video I saw said that the built in lights now work better with cycles in the latest blender version. Working with planes seems a bit clunky to me and I’ve already found they can lead to unwanted reflections so surely working with proper dedicated light objects is infinitely preferable? In any case won’t blender eventually be coded so there is no need to use planes?
Built in light objects tend to produce less noise for the same amount of samples and are great as fake lighting (I often use them as fake bounced lighting from major surfaces like floor and ceiling), but as real lighting they cannot be made visible. They do have direct control over number of bounces, but they don’t react to (all?) stuff happening with the light path node. I.e. making a light visible to singular rays only is not an option for light objects, but a viable trick for surface shader based materials (I use it to lower the strength for camera and singular ray reflections to avoid horrible aliasing artifacts - for rougher reflections it’s handled automatically - which is why I as probably the only one uses those dreaded sharp reflections sometimes :D).
Light reflectivity can for built in light objects be controlled using objects/cycles settings (except camera visibility doesn’t work at all). For emission based objects it’s rarely that easy since they tend to be parts of objects rather than a simple object. Which means reflectivity has to be controlled using the light emitting part of the node tree for that material.
Lamp output based lights can also now be textured/ramped which is really handy.