My personnal feedback on Cycles

Hi everyone,

I am a french artist ( and i’ve been working with 3D for decades and using Blender since 2 years. My current tools are mainly Houdini, Blender and 3DCoat. Recently for a personal “motion design” short film i’ve been looking for the best renderer for myself.

I’ve tried several engine (Maxwell, Redshift, Luxcore, Mantra/Karma, Octane, bella render, Arnold, Clarisse, Indigo, guerilla render, 3Delight and E-Cycles) most of the time superficially but sometimes a bit more in depth. Long story short after a big crush with Octane i really think i am going with Cycles/E-Cycles after all, at least that’s what my heart wants. There is a lot of reasons but the main one is the flexibility/quality balance and the way you can look dev in the different viewport shading options. Octane in comparison feel stiff/rigid + no triplannar micro displacement, no mapping driven by procedural or texture, unpredictable fog, render lack of sharpness, weird fbx/alembic import and a few others things.

But i got somes concerns and thoughts about Cycles that i would like to share with you (not necessarily in order of importance) :

  • Spectral Cycles, i won’t expand since it’s apparently in WIP but i really think having a spectral option could be a good thing.
    To my eyes when you are chasing for realism and natural look, spectral engine gives an edge especially in some colorful lighting scenarios. And more important (for me) refractive dispersion looks way better than cheated one.

Octane (Spectral and fast) also have some interesting features that i would love to have it in Blender :

  • The caustics especially with the new photon tracing kernel of Octane looks amazing :

I would like the same in Cycles, and it works with volumetrics of course. Luxcore seems to do great on that topic, same as Bella, they got nice example of an emitter enclosed in glass, or through a window for example. I really hope all of this will become possible in Cycles.

I am pretty sure the lens dispersion from the compositing in Blender won’t achieve the same quality (+ you understand that as everything it’s always better if you can visualize it in the render viewport), correct me if i am wrong !
Same about vignetting or bloom/physical glare, i think it could be cool to adjust it directly in the render like in Octane ! And even if you argue that it would be better to do that in post in many cases, at least you can approximate what the final picture could look like in the viewport render and then turn it off. Again, not as important.

I know that without spectral this kind of abbe dispersion are faked and as i said not as good as Octane’s one BUT yet i think in many case they can be artistically viable and useful for Motion Designer or product viz that’s why it’s available in every others engine like RS, Arnold, Mantra, Guerilla and way more wounding in Cycles 4D (and directly in the bsdf).

That would be so cool if we could benefit from that beside being spectral for a simple reason that i would still consider using that option in some cases even if the spectral can be turned on.

Let’s imagine the effect with that “fake” abbe dispersion is totally OK and even if turning on spectral would make it even better the complexity of a given scene could not justify that choice because of rendering time increasing ? I might be wrong here so correct me if needed.

But it’s also available on Renderman, Arnold so why not Cycles !

  • I wonder if some progress couldn’t be made in the shaders realm, like providing more plausible one. In Arnold they got the Rombo Tools (good news contacted by mail they told me that they were interested by Cycles) :
    What do you think ?

  • I encourage you to provide more procedural textures, for example different noises like in Houdini (Alligator, Sparse Convolution).

  • Linked the texture of the displace modifier with the shader graph could be a really good idea i think. Sometimes you want the modifier for obvious reason, and it would be cool to be able to put a texture created inside the shader of that specific object… Last time i checked it was impossible to achieve that without Animation Nodes (maybe it’s the case now with Geometry node), correct me if i am wrong.

  • Least important maybe and yet kinda upsetting to me is the access to Micro displacement. First you have to switch to experimental (since i was using vray displacement in 2005 on production i didn’t knew it was still an experimental feature :grin: + Vray provided a lots of options with it), then you have to go in the settings of your material and change displacement from bump only to displace and bump. I don’t think any of those steps are justified in 2022. I don’t care if kids or hobbyist crash their computer by accidentally trying displacement, i want cycles to be professional friendly ^^

Imho Blender did a step towards the motion design community with geometry nodes and afaik all the motion designer that i like (simon holmedal, XK studios, Man vs Machine, Already been chewed and so on) are rendering with Redshift and Octane (They use mostly Houdini and C4D).
We often hear that Octane looks better but they choose Redshift for the speed and versatility/flexibility.

For me Cycles could have a strong position here, from the test i performed Cycles looks often gorgeous in terms of light transport. with a bit of work i found his render to be slightly better in some case than Octane’s one (it does great to highlights the volume of my modeling in the shadows and catches sharp details),and i find his look less synthetic than RS.
But it also got a great flexibility for example with the procedural textures workflow combined with blender viewport, the math node, the light path node and so on.

So to me it’s very close to be the best of the two worlds <3. In that regard, seeing what Mario Tran Phuc did with C4D and Cycles 4D really cheers me up.

Of course all those comparisons aren’t scientific, they are just my personal opinion and feelings after my own test.

In general i would like more out of the box, and not rely on kind people over the internet that created a complex ior shader, thin film shader or dispersive refraction for me.

I love Cycles, hope my feedback help a bit !


Hi there QuentinMabille, beautiful work you have :grin:.

Well as for the scene, I tried it, and it showed me that it will render in about 1h40m, so it is strange that it shows 158h for you. Cycles is awesome and really fast for this rendering case, I believe there is something else wrong in the equation. Maybe a driver issue, system issue, but without more information from you I can’t pinpoint the problem.

Also what I noticed is that there are some settings which are “not optimal” in my humble opinion. I believe you will find a difference if you use them:

  • check the “Adaptive Sampling”, this will definitely increase your speed by order of magnitude in this situation, especially in dark areas.
  • change the “Tiles size” from 64 to 256 or 512, the Vram usage won’t change that much.

I just rendered your scene with the above settings it it rendered in 5 minutes. Belnder 2.93.0
My GPU is 3090 FE and I am using Optix, but you can expect that it would take 10 minutes in normal Cuda.

If you want I can render it in the normal Cuda with your own settings for 2 hours.
Also if you want you can watch this video if you would like to have a general idea about render engines.

Best Regards

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Hi, thanks a lot for the reply, indeed maybe a driver issue that won’t affect E-Cycles ? I hope so !

Let me try with optix (i tried in Cuda) and with your settings, it will be intersting, but please note that a 2080 and a 3090 aren’t exactly the same thing :smile:

I keep you informed, thanks for taking the time to check and reply !

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But as i thought about it, an estimated time of 1H40 (would probably be less at the end btw) is still over 1h03 minutes that was my precise render time with E-Cycles with that exact scene on a 2080 not a 3090… So… It tends to prooves that there is a real problem.

Cheers !

I hope too that it is a driver issue :palms_up_together:.
Indeed 3090 is not a 2080Ti, but close enough :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:.

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hahah i will have mine very soon so hopefully i can make my own opinion :sweat_smile:

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Sure is faster, but what about the quality :thinking:, cause E-Cycles “cheats” a lot. But if the quality is enough for you, then that what matters at the end.

I just finished a render with adaptive sampling of value 0.001 (default is 0.01), and to me, the quality of Cycles is great, but is it enough for your in this case?
Ah right, render time here is 40m:

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For quality in all the comparison i’ve done E-Cycles was looking exactly the same. It’s really just like cycles with a slightly different sampling method. For the quality i can’t tell, this was just stress test. Note that my render was in higher resolution that yours, here it is :

if you resize and compare both in photoshop you will see that they are the same. Some reflection that looks a bit different in the left shadow area but it’s not due to E-Cycles just the fact that it’s not the same blender i think. The E-cycles i used is on the 3.0, E-Cycle derivate from Cycles so on that version it’s derivated from Cycles X if i understand correctly (i might be wrong).

That being said i’ve switched in optix and doing more test you were right i probably did mistake but at the moment the render time announced is still way over E-Cycle. But indeed i probably did a mistake so i will have to edit my post ahah

I keep you informed. My tile size on Blender 3+ and E-Cycles was 2048 by the way.

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Apparently staying in Cuda was my issue, in Optix it seems to render wayyyy faster, thank you so much i am reassured !!!
You fixed my main concern, i don’t know if it will be as fast as E-Cycles (+ there is features that i like in it like SSAA and physical Glare) yet but it was me the problem what a relief hahaha

I edited my post because obviously i was doing something wrong

Thans again @a1a1


I am glad it worked for you @ QuentinMabille :grin: :+1:.
Yes Cuda is slower, but it has its own benefits too :wink:.
As for E-Cycles yes, it is also a great tool with its own sets of features that distinct it from normal Cycles or even Cycles-X.
They all are great tools. And it is up to you to use them for the right job :sunglasses:.
By the way, this is Cycles-X at 2304x1296 pixels (3840x2160 at 60% as the test scene :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:) with adaptive sampling at 0.01 and 2048 samples:
26 minutes

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Ho i can’t wait to have a 3090 hahaha :dizzy_face:

Thanks again the time are now equal more or less, this was the thing, being in Optix that’s so crazy, i am so relieved, thanks again !

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