Film review: Lucky New SHD 100 part 1 – 35mm EI 100 (bracketed +/- 1 stop)
Lucky Film SHD 100 black and white film was one of a number of versions of colour, black and white, and chromogenic black and white consumer films manufactured by Lucky Group Corporation in Héběi (河北), China.
Sadly, the company stopped producing consumer film somewhere close to 9 years ago and the film – colour negative especially – has gone on to become a bit of a favourite of those in the know, especially when over exposed a couple of stops.
I’ve tried it myself and absolutely loved the results.
Over the years, photographers have had various things to say about old Lucky SHD black and white film. Anything from the usual ill-informed trite of “don’t trust Chinese quality control” to more considered musings on the film’s grain structure, ideal development methodology and its unique signature (much of which was due to lack of sufficient anti-halation).
So, when word got around that Lucky Group Corporation was back, my interest was piqued.
I say Lucky Group Corporation but should say Luckyfilm, the newly formed company that started operations early in 2017. I managed to get in touch with the Luckyfilm folks, found out a bit more about the company and secured a few 35mm rolls for testing (thank you). The first results of these tests are presented here in part one of my five part 35mm Lucky Film New SHD 100 review.
As with my Bergger Pancro 400 review, this will be a long review and come together over several parts.
Each part will cover the film shot at a different speed with per meter, over exposed and under exposed examples. The final review in the series will cover a test of this film developed as slides using a black and white reversal process.
You can jump to other parts of this series as and when they are published using the links below:
- Every single film stock still made today – Part 4: Kodak to Maco Direct (v2)
- Film review: Lucky New SHD 100 Part 3 – 35mm EI 400 (bracketed +/- 1 stop)
- Film Review: Lucky New SHD 100 Part 2 – 35mm EI 25 (bracketed +/- 1 stop)
- Film review: Lucky New SHD 100 part 1 – 35mm EI 100 (bracketed +/- 1 stop)
…and here’s what’s covered below in part one:
Table of contents
Let’s get stuck in.
Luckyfilm vs Lucky Film
Although the raw film stock for Lucky New SHD 100 is still manufactured at the China Lucky Film Corporation (乐凯 / 樂凱 / Lè Kǎi in simplified / traditional / pinyin Chinese) facility that is where the connection between the original and new film ends.
This new emulsion is manufactured to an updated specification and coated onto a brand new film base. This near-transparent polyester base is also thinner than the original film stock’s and the anti-halation layer is very much up to spec. No halos or otherworldly results that I’ve experienced myself so far. The updated emulsion itself is tougher and less prone to scratching.
Luckyfilm (华感 / 華感 / Huá Gǎn again, simplified / traditional / pinyin Chinese )take direct responsibility for production of the raw film stock, which they then cut, load and package up before selling it via a combination of distributors, retailers and direct sales channels.
Lucky New SHD 100…what is it?
Lucky New SHD 100 is a black and white black and white negative film for general outdoor and indoor photography. Ideally developed in Kodak D-76 or Luckyfilm’s own special developer formulation. At the time of writing the film is available through selected online retailers in 35mm / 36 exposure rolls only.
The film supposedly comes with an improved tolerance to both high temperatures and humidity (not explicitly tested by me but each of the rolls were shot in 35c+ and ~80% humidity conditions). The emulsion is laid down on a near-transparent polyester base which is thinner than it’s predecessor. According to Luckyfilm, New SHD 100 has:
- Very fine grain
- Moderate contrast
- High resolving power
- Great “forgiveness”
- A wide exposure latitude
- Excellent highlight separation
The film is also less subject to curling, which is good news for everyone scanning this film themselves at home. My own negatives were a joy to work with.
As with my Bergger Pancro 400 tests, I have decided to stick to the same camera/lens combination. This and all other rolls were shot at box speed (ISO 100) using my Nikon F100 set to manual and in spot meter mode. Each frame was bracketed by a single stop of under exposure and over exposure using the camera’s auto-bracketing function.
Regarding film economy, my camera counted a total of 38 frames shot. I would guess you may be able to get 39 or even 40 frames on a smaller camera such as a rangefinder or compact point and shoot.
I used my Nikkor AF-D 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 zoom/macro lens. For this roll, the lens was set to a constant f/5.6.
The film was developed at 20c in Kodak HC-110 1+47 (dilution E) for 8 minutes. The film was agitated continuously for the first 60 seconds and then again for 10 seconds at the top of every minute thereafter. No pre-wash.
Ilford’s Ilfostop and Rapid Fixer were used at the manufacturer’s recommended dilutions for one minute and five minutes respectively. Finally, the film was soaked for one minute in Kodak Photoflo (2+1000ml) and then rinsed for five minutes in running water.
The film was left to hang to dry for 24 hours, cut and scanned using an Epson Perfection V750 Pro scanner in factory-shipped 35mm holders.
I scanned to TIFF at 1600dpi in Vuescan for speed (I hate scanning 35mm film), and a light unsharp mask was applied in Photoshop with no dust removal.
The files were exported to 1000px on the longest edge in Lightroom with a light hand on getting the file size down for web.
Of the 12 3-frame scenes I shot on this roll, I have provided eight scenes here for review: a total of 24 frames. The order of images below is under exposed, correctly exposed (per meter) and over exposed. Weather conditions were great on the whole, especially towards the end of the roll.
Click/tap on the image thumbnails to open the full-sized image in a lightbox. Use the navigation icons, swipe the screen, or tap the arrow keys on your keyboard to cycle through each set.
To recap, Luckyfilm tell us that this film has very fine grain, moderate contrast, high resolving power, great “forgiveness”, a wide exposure latitude and excellent highlight separation.
I have to agree with most of the above. Although, while the highlights seem to be well separated, the results seem better when the film is under exposed a stop, as opposed to box speed. More to come on that front in the following parts of this series.
The grain isn’t shy by any means and is noticeable but not in a bad way. The over exposed frames bring it out especially nicely in my opinion. The film lends itself very well to deep texture, as examples four and six show; and in my opinion is quite pleasant.
This is a traditional grain film that won’t give you the resolving power of T-MAX or Delta 100 Professional but by the same measure, the grain doesn’t feel overly restrained as those films sometimes do. That said, I really like it.
Upon seeing the negatives come out of the tank I had a feeling that shooting at a lower EI might lead to a more even spread across the gray-scale, as opposed to being weighted – in my opinion – towards the lighter end. Thankfully I shot and developed my EI 25 and EI 400 rolls on the same day, so the wait wasn’t too long.
Spoiler: both rolls look fantastic.
The film base is damned near transparent. It reminds me of a Rollei film and makes me feel very good about the reversal development test I’m waiting on results for.
Thanks for reading and please leave your comments or questions below. If you’ve shot this film already, I would love to hear what you think and how your opinion compares with mine.
Before I go, I’d like to say a big thanks to Stian-René Espeland for helping me make contact with the folks at Luckyfilm. Go check out his Instagram account @sespela and while you’re there, go give @luckyfilm_china a follow too.
Keep shooting, folks,
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