I know similar questions have been asked before, but my question is a bit more specific.
I need to render building interiors and exteriors, not for promotion, but for evaluation and to help me improve the design of the building.
First of all my budget is $100 (maybe I could stretch it to $150). This should eliminate several options.
Secondly, I need a renderer that will produce as physically accurate results as possible. I don’t need just a nice looking result, but a result that will be very close to reality. For example I need a renderer that will allow me to place actual lights (with specific wattage / temperature, IES) and will have accurate daylight for my location, and using only these should produce accurate results, without the need to light the scene with anything that wouldn’t exist in the real world. I should also be able to get accurate materials.
Back in 2012-13 (when I was doing another project) I tried a few renderers: Twilight V1, Maxwell Free, Shaderlight, Podium, and Kerkythea. Kerkythea was a bit too complicated. I didn’t like the output of Shaderlight and Podium. I liked the UI and renders of Maxwell and close second was Twilight, but I ended up buying Twilight because Maxwell had a few limitations.
My Twilight V1 doesn’t work on newer versions of Sketchup so I should buy something else. I am considering Twilight V2 (which is now on discount) but I want to see what other options are available now, and then if possible try 2-3 of them before I choose one.