Photo of the Day – Episode 19

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Pen Review: Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

 

For more details, please visit the following related pen reviews:

Pelikan has a lineup of premium fountain pen inks called the Edelstein. Since 2012, a new colour gets introduced every year, called the Ink of the Year. Starting in 2015, Pelikan also releases a special edition fountain pen with the matching colour, in the Classic M200/205 line. The 2015 special edition colour is the Amethyst. This review is going to go over the details of the Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst.

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Basic Information:
Fountain Pen: Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst
Nib: Stainless steel fine nib
Filling System: Piston
Production: Special edition

1. Packaging (9/10):
The Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst has a simple but adequate packaging, just like any other regular production Classic line fountain pens. There is actually a version with a special packaging, which includes both the pen and the Ink of the Year ink bottle. In comparison, this box seems much more plain and simple, but it’s still a great one.

2. Pen Design (9/10):

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The Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst is a beautiful pen. The overall shape and structure of this pen is identical to the ones that I have reviewed in the past (M200 Black, M200 Café Crème, M200 Demonstrator & M205 White-Silver), but what makes it stand out is the beautiful frosted purple resin. It’s a demonstrator fountain pen, which shows the piston mechanism inside the barrel, the nib inside the cap, and the amount of ink left in the reservoir. But unlike some other clear demonstrators, such as the Lamy Vista or the Pelikan Classic M200 Demonstrator, or the one with the matte surface, the Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur, the Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst is polished outside, but frosted inside. I really enjoy this wonderful approach. Combining with the silver coloured trims, this pen is very attractive. I really wish that the same finish can be made available on the M805 model.
Other than the special finish, the Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst shares the same design aspects as the other M200/M205 pens. The cap twists off, and posts deeply and securely onto the end of the barrel. The lightweight resin ensures that the weight balance is always excellent, no matter whether the cap is posted or not. The nib unit is interchangeable, so that this pen can be fitted with any M200/M205 stainless steel nib, or M400/M405 14K gold nib, which is one of my favourite features from the Pelikan Classic and Souverän lines of fountain pens.

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Being a lower level model from Pelikan, the M205 Amethyst is not perfect. The seam lines are visible on the grip section. And compared to the metallic cap top from the Souverän line, the plastic cap top looks a bit out of place, considering that the rest of the pen is constructed by either the translucent purple resin, or the silver coloured trims.
Despite the imperfections, I think the Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst has a great design for its price.

3. Filling System (10/10):
Just like any other Pelikan Classic M200/M205 that I have reviewed, the piston filling mechanism installed here is flawless. It has a decent ink capacity. The piston operation is very smooth. And the whole translucent barrel serves as the perfect ink window. If you like a coloured demonstrator, there is not much else to ask for.

4. Nib Performance (9/10):

The stainless steel nibs from the Pelikan Classic line always have high performances. Personally, I think they are among the best in their category. This fine nib doesn’t have much special. It is rigid and it doesn’t offer any significant line variation, but it always writes without any disruptions. Right out of the box, hard start or skipping problems don’t exist on this nib. As a good option for a daily writer, its reliable performance is the key.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
The Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst doesn’t take much effort to clean. The piston operation is smooth and effective. The nib unit is removable for easy access to the ink reservoir. Furthermore, the piston seal is tightly fit, so that unlike what I have experienced with my Omas Ogiva Alba, no ink gets trapped behind the piston seal. Within its price range, there isn’t much else that can compete. The resin used to make the pen will of course see some normal micro-scratches during the daily use. But other than that, there isn’t much to worry about. The build quality of the pen is excellent.

Summary:

Packaging: 9/10
Pen Design: 9/10
Filling System: 10/10
Nib Performance: 9/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 10/10

Total: 47/50

The Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst is Pelikan’s first special edition release that matches the corresponding Edelstein Ink of the Year, and it’s a great one. The M200/M205 model is on the small/medium side for a pen, but it is easy to handle and great for carry around. Other than a few seam lines that are not polished off, and a few decorations that are less fancy compared to the gold nib Souverän model, this pen has a lot of great features. The translucent and frosted purple cap and barrel look amazing, and the smooth piston filling mechanism only makes it even better. Being a special edition and for what it offers, I think it falls into the right price range. No matter if you choose the M205 Amethyst, or any other version from the Pelikan Classic lineup, it will be a great writer.

 

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

Photo of the Day – Episode 18

Photo of the Day – 87 – The Atomium #photography #atomium #brussels #bruxelles #belgium

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Pen Review: Pilot Prera – Light Blue

The Pilot Prera – Light Blue is currently for sale. (SOLD)

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

 

Pilot nibs are often well made and are in high performance, no matter if they are the lower end stainless steel nibs, or the much more expensive gold ones. The one to be reviewed this time is an entry level fountain pen from Pilot, the Pilot Prera – Light Blue.

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Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera – Light Blue
Nib: Stainless steel medium nib
Filling System: Pilot proprietary cartridge/converter
Production: Regular edition

1. Packaging (9/10):

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From what I have heard, it seems that even with the same Pilot pen model, there can be quite a variety of different packagings. Therefore, what I have may not necessarily be what you will receive. My Pilot Prera comes with a metal pen case, and I think it is one of the best pen cases in this price range. The top of the pen case has a large cutout, with a transparent cover. The pen can be seen clearly and is securely placed. In addition, a Pilot CON-50 converter is provided in the packaging. Compared to the other fountain pens in the same price range, the Pilot Prera has one of the best packagings offered.

2. Pen Design (9/10):
The Pilot Prera is fairly small in length. Compared to two popular economical compact pen models, the Kaweco AL Sport and the Pilot Metropolitan, the Pilot Prera always falls in the middle, whether it is capped, posted, or not posted. I personally don’t often post the caps on my pens, but I do find that the Pilot Prera has an excellent weight balance when the cap is posted. And the cap posts very securely. Without posting, the pen is quite short but still very much easily usable.

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The Pilot Prera Light Blue is a demonstrator fountain pen. The grip section and the barrel are transparent, so that it is very clear to see the feed and the converter/cartridge inserted into the pen. For this version, the two end pieces of the pen are in transparent blue. The cap has one silver coloured ring on the bottom of the blue end piece. On the top of the cap is a silver coloured flat finial, with the pen clip right underneath it. On the other side of the cap is another silver coloured cap band. The cap snaps to close. The closing action is very responsive and it gives a clear click sound. It is a very well designed cap. However, it’s not perfect. One complaint that I have about the cap is the decision to use a white inner cap for a demonstrator pen. The inner cap occupies a large space in the cap, and personally, I think it looks very inconsistent against the rest of the pen. Secondly, the printed dots and letters also don’t look that appealing on a demonstrator. I think it would be a much better choice if they are engraved, or maybe not added at all.
The Pilot Prera is very comfortable to hold. The grip section gets slightly narrower as it goes towards the nib, and it is long enough for the fingers to grip onto it firmly and comfortably. Several silver coloured rings decorate the grip section and the pen barrel. With the addition of the stainless steel nib, it’s a very good looking entry level fountain pen. Again, my biggest complaint is about the strange looking inner cap.

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The Pilot Prera Light Blue looks and feels well made. The parts are well polished, and the assembly shows the precision and the attention to details. Compared to the previously reviewed Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur, the Pilot Prera Light Blue does not have very obvious machining marks or excessive glue filled. When looked closely, some seam lines can be seen on the grip section and the pen barrel, but the pen surface is very smooth. Even though it’s only an entry level fountain pen, the build quality is outstanding.

3. Filling System (6/10):
The Pilot Prera Light Blue comes with a Pilot proprietary CON-50 converter. The CON-50 converter does not hold a lot of ink, and it’s difficult to make a full fill. The opening of the converter is quite wide. Therefore, it’s very easy to make an ink splash when removing the converter, if there is any ink left inside. The converter itself works well and has a good build quality, but there’s nothing special that makes this proprietary converter better than the international standard ones.

4. Nib Performance (9/10):

All of my Pilot fountain pens have great nibs, and this one is no exception. The stainless steel medium nib on this Pilot Prera Light Blue writes better than many others of higher price points. The nib writes reliably right out of the box, and does not have any hard start or skipping issue. It writes consistently regardless of the paper quality. It’s a stiff stainless steel nib, therefore there is basically no line variation. But the excellent writing performance with the moderate ink flow make the Pilot Prera Light Blue a great daily writing pen.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
Even though the Pilot Prera Light Blue is a demonstrator pen, I actually don’t find much issue with the cleaning and maintenance. The cartridge/converter filling system is quite easy to use. The clear plastic pen body seems to be fairly stain resistant. The inside of the grip section will make contact with the ink filled. But I haven’t seen any staining so far.
Meanwhile, the plastic used for the Pilot Prera Light Blue is very scratch resistant as well. The material feels well polished and the weight is decent in the hand, as far as the plastic is concerned.

Summary:

Packaging: 9/10
Pen Design: 9/10
Filling System: 6/10
Nib Performance: 9/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 10/10

Total: 43/50

The Pilot Prera Light Blue is one of the best offerings available in its price range, in my opinion. It’s a great upgrade from the entry level Pilot Metropolitan, having high quality pen material, a better converter, and a more comfortable pen design, while keeping the high writing performance.
The construction of the pen is solid. The build quality is very high, perhaps even better than many other pen models that are much more expensive.
The Pilot Prera Light Blue is a great compact size demonstrator. For anyone who is looking for a great daily writing pen, the Pilot Prera Light Blue may be worth checking out.

 

The Pilot Prera – Light Blue is currently for sale. (SOLD)

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

Pen Review: Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

I like demonstrator fountain pens. Even though they are not the most practical finish of a pen, because of the risk of seeing ink staining or the difficulty of thorough cleaning, I still love to see the internal mechanism of a fountain pen, and how it operates. Therefore, I started looking for good demonstrators. I purchased the Lamy Vista, but the design doesn’t interest me that much. I also have the Pelikan Classic M200 Demonstrator. I enjoy the fact that it is a piston filling pen, which makes the pen looking much cooler than cartridge/converter demonstrators, in my opinion. However the gold coloured trims are not my favourite. Also, considering that it’s a lower end model that uses a stainless steel nib, and its fairly small size, this is not my perfect demonstrator. The pen to be reviewed this time is another demonstrator that I was very interested in trying out, and it is the Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur.

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Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur
Nib: 14K gold medium nib
Filling System: Platinum proprietary cartridge/converter
Production: Limited edition, now regular edition

1. Packaging (9/10):

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The packaging that’s provided for the Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is simple but adequate. The pen box is in white and made of strong cardboard. What’s interesting is that the box is in an oval shape. The top lifts open, then the pen is secured by a ribbon, on the base of the pen box. The whole colour scheme is around silver and white, which matches extremely well with the pen itself. In addition, a Platinum cartridge and a Platinum converter are provided. I don’t like the idea of proprietary cartridge and converter formats, but I appreciate that they are provided in the packaging.

2. Pen Design (8/10):
The Platinum 3776 Century is a classic cigar shaped pen. It offers several different colour versions, from the simple black body with gold coloured trims, to clear body with silver coloured trims. The offerings range from regular production models to limited editions. The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur started as a limited edition of 2000 numbered pieces. After the first 2000 releases, the Nice Pur became part of the regular lineup. There is no functional difference between the two versions. It’s only that the limited edition pens have the number marked on the pen cap.
The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is a nicely sized pen. It’s about as long as the Pelikan Souverän M800/M805 when closed. When the cap is posted, the Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is slightly shorter, which I find that easier to handle, compared to the sub-flagship model from Pelikan. Without the cap, it is quite a bit shorter than the Pelikan. The pen is mostly made from resin, therefore it doesn’t really have any problem with the weight distribution.


The reason why I chose the Nice Pur over the others is because of its unique finish. The grip section of the pen is clear, but the cap and barrel are frosted. Therefore, it is easy to see the feed, while the other internal components are visible, but only vaguely. I think it works well aesthetically and functionally. For example, the converter can only be vaguely seen inside the barrel, but when inked, the colour of the ink and the ink level are still easy to tell.
The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur also uses the technology called the “Slip and Seal” mechanism, which is supposed to keep the ink from drying out in the pen, for a long period of the time, when the pen is capped. From what I understand, essentially the inner cap is spring loaded, rather than fixed. When the cap is screwed back on, the edge of the grip section makes contact with the end of the inner cap. Then as the twist action continues, the inner cap is pushed in, and the spring is pressed, making the seal tighter. It’s a fairly simple mechanism that the users may not even notice, but I think it’s definitely great to have.
There are many grooves on the cap and barrel, and they are evenly distributed. The grooves are not as frosted as the surface of the pen, making the alternating stripe pattern very cool looking. Also this gives an interesting texture to the pen, but not uncomfortable to the hand. There are silver coloured rings on the grip section, and near the two ends of the pen, followed by the wide clip and cap band that are in the same tone. Finally, the 14K gold nib is entirely rhodium plated. The shiny silver coloured trims blend in seamlessly with the frosted and white demonstrator pen body. In comparison, the previously reviewed Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium, which is in the same price range, doesn’t have the same level of design consistency.

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The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is not perfect, of course. While the overall build quality is excellent, there are a few cases where I think platinum can do better. First of all, there are obvious seam lines on the grip section, which I assume are the result of the manufacturing process. It is easy to see and even easier to feel. Personally, I think any manufacturer must pay attention to the details like this and polish the obvious markings. They make the pen look and feel cheap. Secondly, there are markings left inside the grip section, which seem to be scratches. I’m not sure what the cause is, but since the grip section is clear, this kind of imperfections really damages the overall appearance of the pen. Last but not least, the end piece of the barrel appears to be glued on, but the application of the glue was poorly done. I can see so many bubbles at the joint section between the two pieces, and the glue looks to be excessive at a few places. Compared to the first two issues, this one looks even worse.

3. Filling System (7/10):
The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur uses the Platinum proprietary cartridge/converter filling system. As I have mentioned many times before, I do not like proprietary cartridge/converter filling systems, especially when the special design is not absolutely mandatory. Regarding the Platinum converter, it looks and works very similarly to the international standard converters, even though they are not interchangeable at all. The converter holds a decent amount of ink, and fits very securely in the pen. The converter does have a decent build quality.
Platinum actually sells a small adapter, which is able to let the Platinum fountain pens use the international standard converters. Personally, I have not yet tried this adapter. I appreciate that Platinum is willing to to make such a tool. However, I still think that Platinum should provide it by default in any of the pens beyond the entry level prices, or even better, just start to implement the international standard format on all of the offerings.

4. Nib Performance (8/10):

My Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur has a 14K gold medium nib. Right out of the box, the nib has no issue with hard start or skipping. Compared to the 14K gold nib from the other brands, this one has a relatively flat top surface. The nib has a decent amount of springiness, but there is no line variation. As a medium nib, it has a large amount of tipping, but still writes with a lot of feedback, which is more than what I prefer. The ink flow of the nib tends to be on the more conservative side with most of the inks that I have tried, which may contribute to the nib’s feedback. In my opinion, if anyone is looking for a drier flowing pen, and would like to use it for the everyday writing, it’s not a bad choice. Personally though, I would like to use the nibs with a more generous flow.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (8/10):
The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is a demonstrator pen, and demonstrators generally need more care regarding cleaning and maintenance. I don’t use this pen with any ink that tends to stain, and so far I haven’t encountered any staining issue. It’s a cartridge/converter pen, so that at least the pen barrel won’t make contact with the ink.
There are certain things to be aware of though. After filling the pen in an ink bottle, the ink may get trapped near the end of the grip section. Aesthetically that’s a bit annoying. When capping the pen, the ink may then get transferred to the inner cap. Then because of the “Slip and Seal” mechanism, the ink could get further into the gap between the cap and the inner cap, as the inner cap moves. By that time, it becomes difficult to clean up. Another issue that I have encountered is that, the grooves on the cap and barrel tend to collect quite a lot of dust. It doesn’t impact the pen’s usability, but it’s something to be aware of, since it’s also not very easy to clean.

Summary:

Packaging: 9/10
Pen Design: 8/10
Filling System: 7/10
Nib Performance: 8/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 8/10

Total: 40/50

The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is an interesting demonstrator fountain pen. it introduces many refreshing designs, while keeping the overall styling still very classic. The nib writes consistently and it is well performing. Personally, I prefer more ink flows and a smoother nib. Regarding this, the Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur does not meet my expectations.
For its price, the pen has an acceptable build quality. But at the same time it’s not that hard to find manufacturing details that are not paid with full attention.
The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is worth checking out, if you are looking for a decently sized fountain pen that writes reliably, and perhaps best for the occasions when the paper quality isn’t too great, or when it’s ideal to have the written page dry out quickly. The demonstrator body makes it easy to check the ink colour and ink level, and the frosted finish makes the pen even more attractive.

Pen Review: Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

Most of my daily use fountain pens are gold nibs in fine or medium, and the nibs are mostly rigid. However, occasionally I purchase the other varieties, when I find the options interesting enough to try out. The pen to be reviewed this time is a pen that I don’t use often, but still enjoy using it when it is in the pen rotation. This pen is the Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium.

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Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium
Nib: 14K gold soft extra fine
Filling System: Pilot proprietary cartridge/converter
Production: Regular edition

1. Packaging (7/10):
The pen box that comes with the Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium is similar to the one from the Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque. Just a simple but strong cardboard box that shows the pen in a clear and straightforward approach. Other than that, there is nothing fancy. It is not the most interesting looking packaging for the pen in this price range, but it serves its purpose just fine.

2. Pen Design (6/10):

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The Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium has a decent length. When closed, the length is similar to some commonly seen flagship/sub-flagship pens such as the Lamy 2000 and the Pelikan Souverän M800/M805. The cap of the Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium posts fairly deeply and securely, making the length of the pen when posted shorter than those two mentioned earlier. Because of the lightweight resin construction, this pen is not heavier at any particular point. With or without posting, the weight distribution is quite balanced.
The whole body of the pen is black, decorated with silver coloured (rhodium plated) trims. There are two thin rings near the two ends of the grip section. One ring decorates the end of the barrel. On the cap, two cap bands are used, followed by one more ring on the other end, and the clip right beneath it. In addition, a silver coloured disk is placed on the top of the cap.

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The nib of the Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium is perhaps the most distinctive feature of the pen. Apart from how it writes, the shape of the nib is already quite special. Unlike the commonly seen “conventional” nibs, the Pilot Falcon’s nib is near a triangular shape. It has a narrow nib shoulder and the two tines are long and narrow. If looked sideways, it’s easy to see that the nib is not one smooth and flat piece. Instead, the front is higher than the end of the nib. Also the nib feed has a smooth surface instead of having many cutouts. The engravings on the nib are simple, just the “14K-585” indication of the gold content, the Pilot branding, followed by the “<SE>” marking, representing that it is a soft extra fine nib.

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While I don’t find any issue with the build quality of the pen, and it has no problem during the use, to me the aesthetic design of the pen is poorly executed. First, the pen looks loaded with trim rings, but they have inconsistent widths. Also, the clip’s straight lines and sharp corners do not seem to match well with the curvatures of the pen body. Personally, I feel that the appearance of the pen is no where near fancy. I don’t find it that classic looking either, because of the special nib shape, and the unbalanced feel brought by the widths of the rings in proportion to the size of the pen. For the pen’s weight, I don’t like it either. Personally I prefer my pens to have a bit of extra weight. The Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium is certainly very comfortable to use, but just feels too light and cheap in the hand.

3. Filling System (6/10):

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The Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium has a Pilot proprietary CON-50 converter. When I reviewed the Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque, I gave it a score of 7/10. In the Pilot Vanishing Point, a proprietary converter can hep design the pen’s push button mechanism to always work reliably. However, the Pilot Falcon doesn’t deserve that extra credit. The Pilot CON-50 converter doesn’t hold a lot of ink. The tight fit on the pen and its wide opening make it hard to remove, but easy to cause ink/water splash upon removal. In such case, using a proprietary converter doesn’t offer much benefit to the users.

4. Nib Performance (10/10):

This is where the main selling point of the Pilot Falcon is in my opinion. This nib is marked as a soft extra fine nib, and it is definitely the case here. Out of the box, this extra fine nib writes surprisingly smoothly. Since the nib is really fine, it does give a hint of feedback, but it’s not uncomfortable. What’s even better is that, this 14K gold nib offers semi-flex. The long nib tines are able to react to the pressure applied, in order to separate and give a much thicker line on the paper. They are also able to quickly spring back, when the pressure is released. The line variation is quite obvious, particularly since it is an extra fine nib.
With flex writing, the feed is very capable of controlling the ink flow. Unlike the Omas Ogiva Alba’s extra flessibile nib, which has a very wet ink flow, the Pilot Falcon writes much drier, but I rarely encounter any railroading problem. The feed always catches up with just the right amount of ink.
Extra fine nibs, especially the ones that are really fine, such as this one from Pilot, are usually not in my regular rotation. However, the smoothness of this extra fine nib, the well managed ink flow, and the decent amount of line variation, make it wonderful to use.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
The Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium is mostly made of resin. Other than the normal micro-scratches from the regular use, I don’t see any obvious issue with the pen. The best way to protect it would be to store it in a pen case and carry it around in a pen pouch, which can keep the pen from any significant wear and tear.
Being a cartridge/converter filling pen, the Pilot Falcon is easy to clean.

Summary:

Packaging: 7/10
Pen Design: 6/10
Filling System: 6/10
Nib Performance: 10/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 10/10

Total: 39/50

The Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium is not the best looking pen in its price range, but certainly provides an affordable option for the flex writing with a modern fountain pen. And the performance of the nib is outstanding. For me, this pen is not often in my pen rotation, but its soft extra fine nib adds more varieties to my pen collection, and the quality of the nib make it one of the best choices as a modern flex pen.

Photo of the Day – Episode 17