Is there an inexpensive entry into panoramic photography? Something that provides decent results?
Much as I like my XPan, they are not cheap and you are limited in the size of the print. On the other hand, the XPan cannot be beat for color slides that can be projected. More to your question, I would suggest starting with a 4x5 camera, either a press camera or a view camera for more movements.
For the least expensive, get a beater 4x5 Crown Graphic with a 127 lens and cut down a dark slide to mask the negative so that you only expose the upper or lower half, giving four exposures for each film holder in, approximately, a format of 2.83 to 1. Gives the same ratio as the XPan, but the larger negative can make a considerably larger print than what you can get with an XPan negative.
For more movements to give more perspective control, get a view camera and a lens with more coverage in 90mm or 120mm. This may require a graduated ND filter to eliminate excessive exposure fall off in the corners, depending on the lens. Get an even larger negative by acquiring a Da Yi style 6x17 roll film back. Do not bother with the 6x12, the extra size and versatility of the 6x17 is worth the difference in cost; just be sure your camera has a Graflex style back for it.
The choice really depends on what your definition of inexpensive happens to be. I would think it would also have something to do with how you plan to print/manage your output. For 6X17 images, my assumption is one would need an enlarger which would take 5X7 negatives. I have both a 6X17 back and a Sprocket Rocket. I've had a good bit of fun working with the Sprocket Rocket, shooting without the mask and printing with alternative processes. The Sprocket Rocket runs about $100. Either of the two choices I've suggested can give you material to print analog or digital. Bill Barber
I'll give a fast shout-out to the Brooks Veriwide with 47mm Super Angulon. If I remember correctly, they covered 120°, using 120/220. I can't speak to the price of the things now. I only scanned and stitched the negatives, but they didn't really need any correction to be joined. Masking and printing them would be beyond my meager capabilities, though. Any body ever try it?