It's totally different than Maya, although with the new graphite modeling tools it's getting closer to Maya.
Maya is somewhat like claying and you can compare Max in this aspect to building with LEGO blocks.
And lilsnopp i have seen people make the most beautiful stuff in 3DS Max, stuff i couldn't make in my wildest dreams(yet), go have a look over at CG Talk and look at the 3d choice gallery or the 3d stills gallery you'll know what i am talking about then.
And have you ever read 3D World?
The only thing that i strongly dislike about Max is that it becomes more and more a new feature machine and most of your shading and rendering stuff are presets and is to strongly linked to a Mental Ray workflow.
Is see this behavior coming up in Maya aswell, i have been using Maya from Maya 6.5 until now and the only thing i see is that they are cramming in new features and mess up the interface, Interface and operability wise i think Maya 7 was the best i could work a lot faster than i do now.
If you care to read here is a link to the area
I would also strongly recommend opening new or responding to threads there with your wishes, maybe there's actually someone from Autodesk who is reading the fora.
And Kesava there is a package called Imagemodeler which can make a 3d model out of pictures, but you need more pictures than one;
you can also try out 3dsom pro