Ok, if I had the chance to work with 3ds I think I would do it, too :-)
The quality of Blender-Images depends mostly on the capabilitys of the artist :-)
It is a very powerful software, i think not as powerful as 3ds MAX (never worked with it), but you can do almost everything you want with it - if you know how :-)
And you need a good hand for lightning and texturing, thats what all stands and falls with, if you ask me.
There are a lot of tutorials on Blender out there, but if you have question you can ask ... and maybe I can even answer them :-)
Here are some links:http://www.elysiun.com
(large Blender-site with lots of tutorials and a huge community - look at some of the pictures in the Finished Project-Forum to become an idea of the capabilitys of Blender)www.blendpolis.org
Off-topic: I have a lot of 3ds-Models, but Blender can't import this format (there is one script out there, but I never get it to work properly) - does anyone of you now a good Program to convert 3ds into dxf-files? I tried Crossroads, but it messes up the meshes.