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Lucky SHD 100 B/W New Emulsion

Last year I read that Lucky – one of only two Chinese Film Manufacturers – was making B/W emulsion but then read that they had stopped making it.

Confused? I was.

I knew from looking on ebay that you could still get the film – but living in Hong Kong and traveling frequently to China for work I thought I had to be able to find some somewhere.

A year later I am in Mong Kok picking up a colour film I have just had developed on Sai Yee Gai and just round the corner is an open front photo stall that had Lucky in both 135 and 120 behind the counter for only HK$ 25 a roll. You really couldn’t get more random than this.

From reading on the net – the film I bought which has ‘new’ printed on the canister is not actually different from the ‘old’ one that Lucky stopped making – apart from having ‘new’ printed on the canister.

Most film in HK is HK$ 35 to 65 depending on the type and so this is extremely cheap by any standards.

So, as I had my 35mm R2A on me, I loaded up a roll of the 135 and bought a few rolls of the 120 to take home and try.

This film is sold as 100 ISO and the evening was closing in so I had to use the film quickly with very low f stops (between 1.4 and 2) to get a shutter speed of at least 1/30th as I walked through Mong Kok to get the train home.

Taking photos on a Rangefinder with it stopped down completely means that the subject has to be completely stationary and that you have to be very accurate in focus; but because I was walking to the train and taking street photos I did expect a bit of blur and movement – but as this film proved to be anything but sharp it didn’t actually matter.

Later the same evening I developed the film using TMax Developer for 9 mins at 20 degrees. I used this starting time from the Massive Development Chart which doesn’t have too many options on developers compared to most films.

As I reuse my fixer until completely exhausted and am terrible at keeping track of how many films it has been used on – I always check it using the leader of the film that I cut off when spooling the film and expect to get a time of between 40 secs and 1 minute to know it is all ok.

This film cleared in about 15 seconds – maybe less. The acetate was fine and strong – but what emulsion is on the film is really thin and suggests that there is little or not anti halation layer on the film.

Just to be a little more techy for a minute – the Anti Halation layer on a film stops the film registering the reflection inside the camera as light bounces off the back plate of your camera and hits the back of the film. On films like TMax 100 this chemical layer is coloured pink and you would have seen this if you didn’t sufficiently fix or rinse the film.

The Anti Halation layer doesn’t effect the way your negative prints or scans – but it will stop the halo effect of the internal reflection of light caused by the double exposure.

The other point to note in the processing of the film is that I didn’t use a stop bath but use a rinse protocol instead to stop clumping of the grains. As the outside temperature warms up in Hong Kong, this means I drop a bit of time off the development as this process is not as immediate as a stop bath.

So finally, here are a few of the film – cropped as I often find street pictures have too much extraneous detail that just happened to be there – and you can see a few characteristics of the film immediately.

Little shadow detail and blown highlights suggest that this film should be rated below 100 ISO and probably 25 to 50 (although I have been told to go completely against the logic and push to 200 or 400 to get some shadow density and to develop for less time than suggested on the Massive Dev Chart).

The halo of light behind the old guy in this picture tells you that there really is no working anti halation layer.

To get some highlight density I brought this up with post processing. This was the only post processing I did on these pictures as although it may read that I don’t like this film because of all of the draw backs – this isn’t the case. I think that sometimes you need film to really look like film. This emulsion is really simple and basic without any refinements but as in all photography – it is about the image and not the camera you use.

If you are looking for detail and sharp images – don’t use it.

If you are looking for mid tones – don’t use it as the levels curve for this film has a flag pole at each end and nothing in the middle.

If you are looking to exploit the aberrations inherent in a film like SHD – then it is actually fine and improves with a bit of photoshop.

My next tests may show an improvement  with a bit of a push of one or two stops but this will have to happen over the weekend in one of my medium format cameras. Perhaps I will try it out on some head shots as that probably is the most unlikely use of this film.

This final shot of Cassius was the end of this film when I got home and believe it or not, this is in a room with normal lighting, yet the shadow density is completely gone.

Because of the way these pictures were cropped your screen probably doesn’t show them particularly well – so just click on the photo to get a better view of how the film came out.

Posted by simon on April 21, 2011
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. 04/22/2011

    Love the blog. Keep up the good work. I am struggling with scanning negatives that are blemish free, but get and better, just as your negatives.

    Your composition, however, blows any of my photos away:)

  2. 05/14/2011

    I can’t seem to fully load this page from my droid!!


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