5.1.1 What is POV-Ray?
POV-Ray™ is short for the Persistence of Vision™ Raytracer, a tool for producing high-quality computer
graphics. POV-Ray™ is copyrighted freeware, that is to say, we, the authors, retain all rights and copyright
over the program, but that we permit you to use it for no charge, subject to the conditions stated in our license,
which should be in the documentation directory as povlegal.doc.
Without a doubt, POV-Ray is the worlds most popular raytracer. From our website alone we see well over 100,000
downloads per year, and this of course doesn't count the copies that are obtained from our mirror sites, other
internet sites, on CD-ROM, or from persons sharing their copies.
The fact that it is free helps a lot in this area, of course, but there's more to it than that. There are quite a
few other free raytracers and renderers available. What makes this program different ?
The answers are too numerous to detail in full here. Suffice it to say that POV-Ray has the right balance of power
and versatility to satisfy extremely experienced and competent users, while at the same time not being so intimidating
as to completely scare new users off.
Of course, the most important factor is image quality, and in the right hands, POV-Ray has it. We, the developers,
have seen images that were rendered using our software that we at first thought were photographs - they were that
realistic. (Note that photo-realism is an advanced skill; one that takes some practice to develop).