I'd like to start an artist thread on using unified sampling in a more brute force way to simplify scene set up and control.
In its simplest form, brute force means turning down all local sampling numbers. We could think about general areas of local sampling control.
Lighting - area light samples
Lens - depth of field samples
Materials - glossy samples, diffuse samples, FG samples
Motion blur - time samples (automatically set to 1 when using unified sampling)
Pure brute force would mean 1 sample, 1 ray path, but to take advantage of potential tradeoffs inbetween, we could scale them to some other amounts.
Use these settings to start:
"samples min" 1
"samples max" 300
"samples quality" 0.2
"samples error cutoff" 0
"unified sampling" on
Reduce your local sampling and start turning up samples quality as needed.
There's a lot of material on unified sampling on this blog:
But if you'd like to step along here in this thread in small steps, we are emphasizing reduced local sampling to begin with.