wow, nice image. There is no way you are going to get an image like that directly from any 3D program.
the overlayed grid in the lower left is obviously added in 2.5D, but more generally the color balance here says to me that it was color corrected professionally.
notice that the yellow haze in the lower left and blue haze in the upper right suggest a fog setting, yet outside those areas the 3D objects are perfectly crisp. in 3D you would have to set volumetrics on a per light basis. faking these in 2.5D not only saves time, but enables the color correctionist to get a good color balance before the volumetrics, rather than after.
that said, the 3d is nicely done. notice the lighting on the back ring, very careful falloffs. the shines are all added in post. i wouls say the feature you are most looking for from the 3d app is a good lighting for glass. notice the posterization in the reflection in the lower right corner. looks like a combination of shaders were used.
so... didnt answer your question, but offering my .02,
| Jameson Wallace
| Motion Graphics Festival
| New Motion + New Sound + New Code
I think what you might explore is doing multiple rendering passes of the same scene and then you tweak those in a compositor like AE, where you can push various parts of the image in terms of color as well as opacity and other effects. While it is possible to do the whole thing just in one 3D animation app, I don't think that is what the pros really do these days.