FDA (Film Depletion Anxiety)

P1130650 WP2

My wife Lisa can attest to this: I rarely get anxious about anything. There may be a couple reasons for my generally low anxiety levels. 1. I’ve lived long enough in this particular body, through this particular lifetime, that I’ve seen a great deal (note that I didn’t declare that I’ve seen everything). 2. I trained for many years in one of the Zen arts, which tends to calm one down. Or at least make one calmer than otherwise.

I wasn’t particularly anxious when I was a child, either. I suppose that was a good starting point, a good foundation.

But I do have one anxiety: Film Depletion Anxiety (FDA). I get anxious when my stock of film gets low. I hate the idea of running out of anything, running out of a type of film that I use, particularly black and white 120 or 35mm film. That doesn’t seem to bother other film shooters I know. Tim Devantier, in particular, does not seem to be bothered by only having one or two rolls of film in reserve for his Mamiyaflex TLR or Minolta SLR. I don’t know why it doesn’t bother him. It is a mystery to me.

The photograph above shows the contents of my film cooler a couple days ago. That is not a lot of film. I know film shooters who have hundreds of rolls of various films in their refrigerators.

My stock is down to only two rolls of 35mm color film, but that isn’t much of a concern to me, because I don’t shoot color film often. I don’t like the hassle of getting color film developed. There are a few rolls of 120 Portra 400, which I bought from The Darkroom @ Division 9 when it was going out of business recently. It will be a while before I shoot that film with my Yashica Mat 124, and in the meantime I’ll add a few rolls of 120 Portra 160 to the pile. I’ll probably eventually (sooner rather than later, I hope) start developing color film and my supply of color film will become more important.

But the situation that caused my most recent bout of FDA was the short supply of 35mm Kentmere 100. There were only two rolls of that film in reserve and it is the film that I shoot the most. I also had a roll loaded in the Nikon N90s and another loaded in the Pentax IQZoom 835, so the situation was not quite as dire as it appeared. I kept thinking about the dwindling supply of 35mm black and white for days. It wasn’t a constant mental affliction, so I guess my FDA is not too far advanced, but thoughts about my film supply rose up in my consciousness at least twenty times per day.

P1130658 WPThe solution to that nagging anxiety was simple enough. I ordered another 100 foot roll of the film. I usually bulk load that film. The factory-loaded cassettes shown above were a stopgap measure. A 100 foot roll typically gives me twenty 36-frame rolls at a cost of around $2 per roll versus $3 per roll for the factory loaded cassettes. Not a huge savings, but nothing to dismiss, either. One advantage of bulk loading is flexibility. It is easy to load a 10-frame roll for test purposes or a 50-frame roll when one is lazy about changing film, though 50 frames will push the limit of a developing reel’s capacity.

The moment I clicked on the last button to commit to buying the bulk roll of film, my FDA fizzled out, dissipated…