Update: Enough said. I have already shot my first slide roll and I am not going back the negative film path. I have started using the Fuji Mailers (mail processing by fujifilm. If you want fuji mailers, go to adorama or B&H Photo and search for "fuji mailers") for slide film processing. I am pleased with the results. No scratches on the slides, they mount the slides on paper mounts and imprint the date of processing on the mount. Also, they cost almost 1/2 the price of wolf and www.aandi.com. Even though the turn around time is somewhat large (approximately 2 weeks), as of now it is worth the money and eventual satisfaction in terms of careful handling of slides.
I have found that the fellas at wolfcamera at 14th street, Atlanta, GA are almost as good as scratching slides (4-5 out of a roll of 36) as negatives. Luckily they scratched the slides on the side opposite to the one used for scanning, so I have them scanned safely.
10/12/03: Black and white photography requires a different kind of thinking and attitude than color photography. I think the same kind of scene might come out very well in a color photograph whereas it might be pretty flat (not much contrast) in a B&W photograph. Getting sufficient contrast to make the picture look good and reduce the overall degree of flatness is something that I still have not been able to find out. To some extent we can certainly enhance contrast at print time using filters, but how to make sure that there is sufficient contrast at shooting time. When shooting Color film, I was more concerned with how to make sure that the available contrast does not go over that of what the film can take but here the problem itself is pretty different.