Using a 85mm f1.8 Nikkor lens with my D200 and a spherical Pano head, employing multiple rows and multiple columns has produced stunning image's that depending on the number of images used can easily be printed up 40x60 if needed.
I use Autopano pro to stitch the images, I often use this with HDR as well.
That said, its not going to work for every image, but its relatively inexpensive compared some of the glass mentioned here, of course it helps if one already has said lens in there kit. I made my own pano head, but there are many inexpensive models out there that will do the job.
I'm surprised that so little was said about stitching, also, there something about the look I get with a 85mm lens when stitching, I'm at a loss trying to explaine it.