What's the best lighting method for my scene?

It depends on the configuration of the scene and the quality you're are looking for your render. In general, scenes are divided into open scenes like outdoors, where the background could be a main light source, or scenes mostly or totally enclosed by a mesh, like house rooms.The best lighting methods in those cases are:

  • Direct lighting will work for all cases. Fast!
  • Pathtracing is mosty convenient for open scenes (outdoors, open studio lighting) and enclosed scenes with big arealights or big windows with incoming background lighting.
  • Photon mapping and Bidirectional should be used with mostly or totally enclosed scenes like house rooms.