I'd like to comment on the new 'soft shadows' feature. On preliminary testing, seems to give very good results with only slightly added render time. So those who were 'shuddering' at the not optimized for speed, need not worry.
Well.... I'm rendering a scene now with the soft shadows turned on, and it is really, really slow.
I have also tested the same scene wihtout soft shadows enabled, and I think it was a lot faster.
I think this is because I have a large population of trees.
It mostly depends on the number of samples. If you have uneven surfaces, nine samples ought to be enough.
This raises rendertime by 50-75% in my cases (AMD).
When having lots of trees, I assume that it is no closeup. Maybe 6 or 7 samples are enough?
It's no closeup. I actually think I set the samples to 6.