For the most part the customers I will be dealing with want me to come out and take several pictures of the view they have and use it as the background. I will mainly be doing exterior rendering so they can have a nice little framed picture to hang on their wall. Also very few if any interior renderings (walkthroughs) etc have been requested. But I would still like to be able to do good quality walkthroughs if requested.
So when shopping for a rendering program if one is better at exterior than interior renderings (walkthroughs) that would be mainly what I’m looking for.
I think it's pretty important to consider your current knowledge on rendering before deciding on packages. I appreciated Artlantis initially as I had no (other than AC) render experience prior to picking it up. It is fairly user friendly, easy to learn & it's quite possible to achieve results fairly quicky. I then moved on to C4D once I'd grown out of Artlantis, but the step was huge, learning a new language almost. So for me, it comes down to the time you have available to learn the new package, & the results you expect from it. If you're expecting to get photo-real images straight after cracking the box open out of, say, C4D or Lightwave, forget it. They present the possibility of a better end result, at an extra cost in initial $$ & learning time = down time from making actual money.
'Not trying to put anybody off, just pointing out what I found hard in the experience...'
If you want to invest time (and courses), then Lightwave, Cinema4D, 3ds max/VIZ, Maya and others can do everything you want. They are expensive.
If you have less money, but still need a flexible 3D-animation program, you can try Carrara, Realsoft3D, Strata3D, Truespace, Pixels3D.
If you have no money, but want to have a full animation tool nonetheless, then the new Blender is looking good. There are others, like 3D Canvas.
If you have no money, but want a better rendering engine (and have some time to invest and learn some coding), then BMRT, Virtualight, POV-Ray, Radiance & similar programs can do a good job. But I find this the hardest way.
On the other hand, if you don't want to learn much and just want a very straightforward rendering companion for ArchiCAD, then AV-Works or Art*lantis are hard to beat. And then there is this thing ArchiLumos, but only in Japan and Sweden, apparantly.
It's all down to the time & the money you'd like to invest in it.
--- stefan boeykens --- architect-engineer-musician --- ARCHICAD25/Revit2020/Rhino6/Unity2020/Solibri MBP2019:i9Octo2.4GHz32GBVega20/BigSur+Win10 ARCHICAD-user since 1998