The limits of photography
A photograph is usually easier to take than creating an image with a computer using 3D data. However, there are some cases where photography reaches its limits or can be as costly as a CG production. Have you ever tried to photograph a machine that is 8m or higher? You will need a very large studio for that.
Alternatively, they show the machine on location. But is there the necessary space for the photographer there? Is that the context and background you envision, or are there things in the picture you don't want to see? These general conditions severely limit classic photography. Afterwards, the photo would need to be post-processed. Depending on how many things need to be retouched, this can be very time consuming and expensive.
What can be difficult to photograph on a large scale is sometimes impossible to photograph on a small scale. You can use the virtual camera to fly into small components, bring out the inner workings, and even show this in motion. Camera settings that would be impossible to achieve with a conventional camera can be perfectly staged and processes, no matter how small, can be communicated in a comprehensible way. Macro shots take on a whole new meaning because there are no limits to imagination and physics.
Of course, what works well in the macro world also makes sense on a larger scale. For example, you don't need elaborate camera slides or cranes to realize settings or film driving situations.
Another elaborate case of photography is photographing prototypes. Prototypes are never quite finished, have the wrong configuration, or require elaborate emotional staging. In the case of a new vehicle, marketing materials need to be developed well in advance of the sales launch. To accomplish this, the prototype must be transported to a special location, set up and photographed. The whole thing then also under secrecy, because one does not want to see the vehicle published prematurely.
With CG technology it is possible to photograph the location and the lighting conditions on site in order to visualize the data set of the virtual 3D vehicle afterwards on the computer with the lighting and reflection photographed on site.
Nevertheless, there are still reasons to photograph products classically. The customer must weigh up how high the cost/benefit factor is for classic photography. A simple photo without much preparation is easy to take. But does this photo live up to the visual claim? Is it worth doing elaborate photo shoots where half of it has to be retouched in the end? In contrast, with CGI everything is possible and you can quickly see what the end result will look like.
But: both ways have their specific advantages and disadvantages. In which cases one or the other approach makes more sense must be decided on a case-by-case basis.