Well, I thought I should come back and answer my own question. I went with a Canon S70. I found it for under $400 bucks at dell with coupons and such. The RAW capabilities and the ability to use up to 15 second shutter speeds make it a pretty good deal for the money I had to spend. I used an s45 and took some shots in a studio environment and it fit my needs with all the manual functions. It is also fun because it is so small, and has a lot of features that my old Canon A-1 (film slr without autofocus) does not have. Compared to my digital still experience with my Sony video camera (1MP stills), it works LOADS better in low light, and being able to see the image right after I take it, makes all the difference compared to the slide film approach. I hope that slides made from it come out well. Buying a $8,000 16 MP DSLR is just CRAZY, but I bet it can take better images. (Oh well, I think I can make due.)
The manual focus is really slow, compared to a manual camera and I have to use it in close shots as the autofucus isnt that great with three dimensional objects in macro mode. Flat images square to the camera a really easy to make in contrast.
The old Nikons I had previously thought I wanted turned out to be a bad choice after looking at how slow they were to record images, turn on and the like.