Physically-correct light reflections seem to be unrealistically bright at steep angles

I don’t have a live sample yet (need to publish latest Lume), for now I’ve got some local changes (namely I updated examples for r155+ including color space and lighting updates).

Here’s a scene that, when I move the camera to a steep angle, the light reflections seems to get unrealistically brighter than the lights themselves, and some shadows appear only at steeper angles. It seems unrealistic. I can’t seem to reproduce this in real life with what “physical materials” I had laying around.

It is using the new color space default (r152+), physical material, physically-correct lighting by default (r155+), a PlaneGeometry for the black surface, with several points lights floating around:

Does this look correct? Especially the brightness of the light reflections?

With a phong material, it is overall softer with the same light, and not as harsh at steep angles:

I think what you may be referring to here is called the Fresnel Effect. It’s a real thing, but whether it’s realistic in your scene depends on many things (material settings, light settings, tone mapping, scale, …) that I won’t try to guess at.

To my eye, your images appear over-saturated. If you aren’t using tone-mapping yet, I would – that’s necessary to get realistic dynamic range from any lit render, and will limit the overblown highlights.