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How do I use a world HDRI without lighting the scene? I only want it to appear in reflections (and maybe the background - not sure yet), but I want to manually light the scene with light objects. This applies to both Cycles and Eevee.

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My answer works for the Cycles-Render-Engine: In the Properties Editor select the World tab. There you find the menue Ray Visibility (only in Cycles!). Uncheck all the boxes except Camera. If you want to see the world-environment in the reflections check the Glossy-Ray. Here the cube is not lit by the environment, because I have unchecked the Ray-Visibility for diffuse.

Here the cube gets light from the environment. Ray Visibility is set to the default setting.

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I usually surround all the scene with a big sphere like this:

enter image description here

then apply the map to the sphere and regulate the intensity of the background with strength parameter to make it coherent with desired lights this way:

background sphere shading nodes

And since there is no need to keep HDR informations, I convert image to simple jpg because is a lot smaller. Result is like this:

enter image description here

Hope it helps!

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A solution that works in both Cycles and Eevee:

Node setup

  • Use a Mix node that plugs into your Background and World Output nodes.
  • Use a Light Path node's Is Camera Ray output for the Mix node's Fac input.
  • Use an RGB node's Color output for the Mix node's Color1 input.
  • Use the original environment input (like a texture) for the Mix node's Color2 input.

Set the RGB node's colors as intended for your scene's ambient lighting as needed.

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