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How can I make the lamps (area/point/spot) visible to camera in Cycles render? Currently they are invisible to the camera, unlike custom mesh lights which can be seen unless camera visibility turned off.

I would like to see the lamp (ie point/sphere) directly in the camera.

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    $\begingroup$ You cannot make default lamps visible in neither Blender Internal nor Cycles. $\endgroup$ – iKlsR Jul 6 '13 at 15:03
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    $\begingroup$ You can work around this by using very small mesh lamps instead $\endgroup$ – Gwen Jul 6 '13 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "visible"? Are they not emitting enough light? $\endgroup$ – A Wild RolandiXor Jul 7 '13 at 13:15
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The standard lights can't be made visible, it only works with mesh lights. I think this is because blender treats lamps different to emitting surfaces when rendering.

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As others have said, Cycles doesn't do that, but you can work around it with proxy objects that are only visible to the camera. Create a small sphere, parented to the lamp, with a node setup like this:

Proxy Object for Light Source

This will make the sphere directly visible to the camera, but it won't affect your scene in any other way.

This works nicely for point lamps. Other lamp types could be a bit more involved, depending on the look you're going for, but the same principle holds.

Sun lamps are especially tricky because the proxy needs to be handled in the world shader setup, and can't be parented to the lamp. Set up your world shader nodes like this:

Nodes to make the sun visible to the camera

You can replace the sky texture here with whatever you want the rest of the sky to look like.

You can see from the purple highlighted elements that I'm using drivers to effectively parent to the sun, and to mimic its actual size. You don't necessarily need to do that, but it's handy. Full details would be out of scope for this post, since you didn't specify sun lamps, but the setup is available on Blend Swap if you're interested.

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