I've only ever done the stepped down lighting and PS blending so far... However, I've also used flash bounceing off the ceiling and used some of the elements for my blending work. This is useful for elements in shadows and so forth... Can't usually blend 1 to 1, but u can layer the objects in. Have a look at http://www.wohnhauscelle.de and at Raum 3. (Raum 3 is only a few weeks old, the others are a year old and I was not useing this technique then) The problem I was facing was a darkish room with ambient light and 1 window throwing in daylight and neon lighting which was set into the window frame. The problem with step down lighting was going to be the fact that the objects in the window would be very dark due to the back light. Also, by extending the exposure time I'd get vast overexposure and noise around these objects. Some of the other elements in the room were also getting fuzzy and dirty due to the long exposure times required. My solution was to do my 8 shots steped down and then do a couple with indirect flash and even direct flash. I was then able to use the well lit elements and layer these where required. This does require some work... but no more then the normal layering/blending work I do. Hhowever, I sold the whole website based around the tour which meant that the tour work was payed for due to the fact that I sold the whole site.
If I only had an hour to chop down a tree... I'd spend 45 mins sharpening the axe.