Lucky film is manufactured in China by the China Lucky Film Corporation. Founded in 1958 this company now makes a variety of products besides film. Their film is mostly marketed to markets in Asia but have found a cult following here in the US.
For a long time Lucky film had a stigma that it the QA was horrible. People would find pinholes in the emulsion or worse hairs and dust. In 2003 Kodak partnered with Lucky and the quality has gone up. Kodak later exited the agreement in 2007.
One of the “features” of Lucky film has been that it lacked an anti-halation backing.
See the film in the camera has to be flat. If it deviates from the intended film plane by even fractions of a millimeter the image won’t be in focus at those points. Thus most cameras have a metal pressure plate that keeps the film flat. In cases of extreme contrast and over exposure light can bounce off this plate and cause blooming of the highlights in the emulsion. To avoid this modern films have an anti-halation backing. It’s generally a dark blue or green dye that rinses off the film during pre-wet or development.
Lucky Film for a long time had no anti-halation layer so highlights would bloom easily. I’ve read that this has changed, likely since Kodak started helping, but their anti-halation layer is extremely weak. It’s still possible to get the blooming highlights with Lucky film.
Another feature that I like is the price. This whole brick cost me $33 shipped to my door. You can’t find fresh 36 exposure rolls of black and white film for $3.30 shipped anywhere.
Things I don’t like about Lucky film:
On the Luck I’ve shot the contrast seems low. I’ve only printed at grade 5 twice. Once was for a high contrast effect, the other time was to get a Lucky negative to look normal. This may have been partly the camera’s fault too, but in the end everything worked out. Curl, this base curls like a mother f@#&ker, which can make it a challenge to coax into printfiles or negative carriers. End roll only applies to 120 films. The end of the roll isn’t labeled well and the sticky strip you lick to hold the roll together is useless. You might as well bring some tape or rubber bands. In any case label your exposed 120 film when shooting Lucky. It can be very tricky telling Luck from Arista EDU or Shanghai.
Still the price is right. If you’re willing to try some out I got mine on ebay here. Ebay links don’t last forever. If you’re searching ebay for Lucky film make sure you check the “Worldwide” box. The stock from Asia is cheaper than the stuff shipping from US addresses.