Thanks for relating your experience so far, that is really valuable.
Indeed there is a little schizophrenia with maya file vs. bella fileTexture, which arises from the way that attribute UI works in maya. In cases where only bella nodes make sense (e.g. layer, coating, etc), you see the little custom node-picking dialog pop up, but for something like a color, it’s not really possible to do that, since you may wish to connect any type of node (bella or otherwise) that has an rgb output.
Regarding bump & normal map, the situation is similar, since a material’s normal attribute can really accept anything providing a vec3 output. However both in this case, and those mentioned above, we will look at adding various higher-level convenience functions that encapsulate creating such multi-node setups.
On shadow/matte, that is something we’ve recently been discussing, as Albert has recently been working in this area. The target here will be to have the useful alpha/shadow channels, with some compositing built into the render (optionally) and IPR, to implement a typical floating shadows feature.
Regarding physical camera, it will not be difficult to add a pinhole lens, it’s just something we have not got around to yet; kind of funny to have a thick lens before a simple pinhole one, but there it is. Regarding displacement, that is something not yet implemented, but it is high on the to-do list.
Lastly, I want to mention, about setting target time, that this does nothing but force the renderer to stop at the selected time — when in fact, it is perfectly happy to continue rendering forever, continually refining the image. So, setting target stop time or level is generally only useful when automating the rendering of multiple frames; but when rendering single frames, I suggest just leaving the defaults, and stopping the renderer when you are happy with the image.
However, that said, when running with a license, bella is capable of resuming a stopped render (technically, the Apollo engine cannot yet do this, but it will), so it is generally no problem if you stop it too early. But, I just mention that for completeness, since in demo mode, you still probably want to just let it render until you stop it.