I dunno if this fits your need but the last time I played with this stuff I used Bryce.
Isn't Bryce mainly for landscapes though?
Persistence of Vision Raytracer [povray.org]
havent done any 3d for a while, but I believe truespace or strata may have what your looking for.
a little further up the budgetary tree, Ive found cinema 4D to be very powerful and comparatively intuitive.
I don't know what you consider "reasonably priced"...
The most often named free ray tracer is POV [povray.org]. If you need more realistic (physically based) quality, then Radiance [radsite.lbl.gov] is the tool of choice (also free, binaries for Windows, sources unix only at the moment). There are a number of free modelling programs out there, many of which can produce data for both renderers, such as Blender [blender.org], Octree [octree.de], Moray [stmuc.com] (for POV), or even Intellicad [intellicad.org] (an Autocad clone).
Depending on the quality of output you need (or don't need), there may be many much simpler and integrated packages out there. I'm primarily familiar with the high-end stuff myself, which means that I could help you best if you really need absolutely perfect results.
You didn't say what type of models you need to visualize. Any more specific requirements you might want to share?
>> Isn't Bryce mainly for landscapes though?
That's what I've used it for. But like I said, I wasn't sure if it fit your needs. ;)
Thanks for all your pointers, very useful. I used to be quite into this stuff on my old Amiga and did a lot of work using Imagine and LightWave. An interface similar to either of those products would make things a lot simpler for me but I suspect things have probably come along way since then!
I do need quality results and I really could be rendering anything (though nothing massively complex). I currently need it to generate some simple geometric shapes for use in some big icons I need - however I expect I'll need to push it a bit harder in the future.
I guess I'm looking for a balance between ease-of-use, fun and quality results but I'm not willing to pay tens of thousands!
Am I right in guessing that some of the free/shareware solutions can take sometime to get 'familiar' with?
Thanks for any further pointers.
(PS - No worries lorax, I just wasn't a hundred percent sure)
In the end I went for Maxon's Cinema 4D, which isn't cheap, but is reasonably priced for a quality product. I'm really pleased with it too - it's intuitive, fun to use and produces great results.
Thanks for all your recommendations.
I remember when POV-ray was a freeware Amiga program.... Good to see it's still around....