As Economical Penster HQ sat squarely in the path of totality for today’s solar eclipse, this post is later than usual. It also has more photos than usual. These were all taken at the Portland pen gathering this past Saturday.
A quiet week on the economical stationery front, but here are a few interesting links:
- Fountain Pen Review: Muji Fountain Pen (via The Well-Appointed Desk)
- Another nice, inexpensive Japanese store brand pen.
- Prospective Look at the 2017 San Francisco International Pen Show (via Hand Over That Pen)
- If you’re going to the SF Pen Show, I’m Diamine Kelly Green with envy.
- DNA of long-dead cows read from pages of Medieval books (via The Cramped)
- The researchers obtained the DNA from waste eraser rubbings. What could scientists learn from your eraser rubbings?
Ah, the oft-overlooked Lamy Vista. The odd pen out in the Lamy Safari/AL-star family, the Vista is a pen for those who like the Safari’s aesthetic and want to see it in demonstrator form.
I received this Vista as a gift, and it holds considerable sentimental value. This has undoubtedly influenced my opinion, so take this post with a grain of salt.
The Lamy Vista is the clear demonstrator version of the Lamy Safari. Aside from the color difference, the Vista is a Safari in every other way, right down to the ink level cutouts in the barrel, which are of course made completely unnecessary by the Vista’s transparent plastic.
The Vista accepts proprietary Lamy ink cartridges as well as the Z24 and Z28 converters. I’ve used this pen with both cartridges and a converter, and I prefer the cartridges because they hold more ink and because I don’t like the red knob on the converter.
While I understand why the Vista has the ink cutout windows, they create a huge missed opportunity. Can you imagine this pen as an eyedropper? You’d probably have enough ink to write Ulysses. As it is, you’ll have to settle for admiring your ink from within a cartridge or converter.
The cap is mostly clear plastic, with the classic U-shaped Safari clip and black plastic “+” finial. The inner cap is metal, with a black seal that fits snugly around the shoulders of the section. While the metal inner cap does disrupt the demonstrator aesthetic, it makes up for it by securely sealing the nib when the pen is capped. Even after sitting for several weeks, this pen has started on the first stroke every time.
The cap can be posted, and it fits on the barrel deeply and securely. In my smaller hands, posting the cap makes the pen feel unbalanced, so I prefer to use my Vista unposted.
The Vista is what I’d call a typically sized modern pen. Indeed, Safaris/AL-stars/Vistas are so ubiquitous that most pen reviews have at least one in their size comparison photos as a standard of reference. As I tend to favor smaller pens, this Vista is one of the larger pens in my collection.
For a mostly-plastic pen, the Vista feels substantial but not overly heavy. It’s heavier than the Pilot Kakuno, the Jinhao 992, and the Hero 1202, but it’s lighter than the Pilot Metropolitan. For me, the unposted Vista is in that sweet spot of weight and balance that makes it well-suited for long writing sessions.
Aside from their looks, perhaps the most controversial thing about the Safari/Vista is the shaped section. Most pen folks seem to love shaped sections or hate them.
I find the Vista’s section comfortable, but I have small hands and hold my pens in the standard tripod grip. For this reason, I strongly suggest trying a Safari/AL-star/Vista in person before buying one.
This particular Vista came to me with an EF nib. Lamy nibs tend to run wide in sizing, and I’d describe this EF as similar to a Japanese medium. This Vista’s nib suits my teeny-tiny handwriting just fine.
The nib is made of steel, with its tipping shaped into a rounded ball. The result is consistent lines with no variation.
In my experience, this nib writes on the dry side with most inks. It has a bit of feedback that I liked more than I thought I would. It’s not at all scratchy, but also not as smooth as a Japanese nib. The nib on this Vista wrote perfectly out of the box.
A nice thing about Safaris/AL-stars/Vistas is that their nibs are interchangeable and easily swapped. Buy one pen and a bunch of different nibs, and you could go from an EF to a 1.9mm stub without breaking the bank.
This Lamy Vista is the most reliable pen in my collection. It starts up every time and never skips. It works so well it’s almost boring. I’m pretty sure the Germans would call that a success, and I can see why these pens are a modern classic.
That said, I don’t feel compelled to add an AL-star or Safari to my collection, though this year’s Safari Petrol limited edition was awfully tempting because I liked the color. But I’m not sure I want to fall down the rabbit hole of acquiring multiples of the same pen in different colors. I’d rather invest in a wide array of nib sizes instead.
Since nearly everyone has at least one Safari, AL-star, or Vista in their collection, I’d love to hear what you think about yours.
This Lamy Vista was given to me as a gift. My opinions on this blog are always my own. Please see my review ethics statement for more details.
Some links to the like-minded:
- Fountain Pen Review: Sheaffer VFM (via The Well-Appointed Desk)
- Alas, modern Sheaffer.
- Review: Pelikan Twist Fountain Pen (via Gourmet Pens)
- This might be the only Pelikan I’d spend money on.
- Dryden Design Classic Fountain Pen (via Best Fountain Pen)
- Never heard of this brand — until now.
- Kaweco Ice Sport Fountain Pen Review (via The Pen Addict)
- Will this be the year I finally buy a Kaweco?
- Elysee Fountain Pen (via 7hedaniel)
- Vintage value pens. I wonder if these ever made it across the pond.
- Zycc Navy Blue (via Wondernaut)
- An ink that performs decently and costs $1.50 for 15ml, shipped? Now you have my attention.