For this homework we were supposed to download a ray-tracer called POV-Ray and put it to use to create an image and a movie.
I played around with it and it seems like an interesting and powerful package. I've tried Blender and TrueSpace and this seems somewhat comparable... probably inbetween the two in terms of ease of use, with TrueSpace being the King of ease-of-use. POV-Ray seems to have a nice devoted group of followers so I may take a look at this again some time in the future.
For what it's worth, the scene below was pretty easy to make. It took some digging to figure out how to do stuff -- it definitely wasn't point-and-click -- but I got it and made a simple seen that I like. Too bad there's no Photon Mapping (that I could find).