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why is it that most have a really diffuse light even when there's a bright and clear sun in it while other HDRs that look similar make a nice and hard sunlight?
The difference between a good pay hdr map and a free shit hdr map
disregard this
Because some realistic lighting is faked. If you have a scene where the camera is in an interior area and you can see the interior pretty well and also the clouds through a window, that scene is almost certaily "manually tweaked". It's a question of dynamic range. Some special tone mapping algorithms exist, but they're not simple to use and have side effects so artists don't bother and choose to fake it poorly.
This is actually true often. High-quality maps usually differ in that they have much higher actual contrast, and correct one, that's all

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