Is it just me or does the preview window tell a different tale than the actual rendering. I mean whats is that window looks amazing, when I render...well I get this look on my face, you know the one you get after you have sucked on a lime. Granted been using it for a long time and I get out what I need, but it would just be nice....
or am I still in crazy man world with all the crazy ppl??!
You probably already know that the preview window does not support indirect illumination (at least through 2004 - didn't bother to check 2005). You also are proabaly aware that you can turn off rendering features in the preview window, so you wont get lights, reflectance, etc... in the preview that you will see in the final render to screen. If you have a reflective environment (like a sphere environment) and yur parts are even a little mirrored you may get different results because of a long standing bug where the environemnt in the preview window does not match the mapping of the environment when rendering to screen/file. If you checked all of that out and its not the cause, then I'm stumped
For what its worth, I stopped using the preview window years ago, and just do test renders to a small pane on a split vieport. You don't have to worry about immediate/deferred rendering because the 'preview' is always only on demand, adjusting the size of the split pane helps drive the render time, and you always, always, always get exactly what you see in the 'preview'. Its worked out great for me