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Review of a Lamy Vista with a 1.1i nib
Posted 26 August 2009 - 12:31
This review is if a Lamy Vista with a 1.1mm italic nib. The pen was bought from The Writing Desk with a Lamy c/c for an inclusive price of £17.25. E-Bay has them at marginally lower prices, but I particularly wanted the 1.1i nib - which is not often available - and a c/c. This is my first new pen from a European manufacturer (unless Parker counts!) since I bought a Geha school pen in the early 1980's. I bought the pen to help me decide whether I like italic nibs enough to invest in getting a hard starting P51 1.1 stub fixed by someone who is competent (as opposed to me). My decision is still unclear because this italic nib isn't quite as italic as I'd expected.
I must make it clear before the start of this review that I am not a great fan of open nibs, and this might be slightly colouring my view of the pen. I shall try to put that feeling aside and be as impartial and objective as possible.
There have been a few reviews of the Lamy Safari, Al-Star and Vista, so why do I feel another is warranted?
Well, to answer my own question, few of the reviews have included any dimensions, masses or comments on the mould quality etc of the pens. Also, I can briefly compare the nib to another italic nib - that P51 stub I have.
Initial Impressions 5/5
When I opened the dull, grey (pretending to be silver) cardboard sleeve box I got a very pleasant surprise. This pen is basically a Lamy Safari in clear plastic. The Safari is not a pretty pen and the Vista has the same lack of looks. However, it is very, very interesting to look at with the internal workings being fully visible. The pen has all sorts of interesting facets, angles and webs to intrigue the eye.
The crispness of the design & moulding, together with the transparency make me think of Lego bricks. I feel this is the pen Lego would have come up with if they had designed a fountain pen. That, I may add, is not a criticism - quite the reverse. Lego are supreme at plastic moulding design, and this pen fits into the same outstanding category.
Barrel Diameter 12mm
Weight Just over 19g including c/c and 1/3 fill of ink.
Mostly injection moulding with amazingly crisp mould and parting lines. Probably ABS as it has the same feel as a plastic kettle. The cap has a horrible chrome plate/ stainless steel wire clip (does the job though), a plated inner cap and a stainless steel nib. This pen is a masterpiece of production engineering and mould design. There are no parts that could be combined to reduce the part count without reducing mouldability or durability. Mechanical engineers: Look & learn, this pen is brilliant.
I'm slightly stuck here. It's a very well designed and built pen. But it still cost £17.25. Or about £10 more than quite well designed and fairly well built pens direct from China. I think it nearly deserves a 4/5, but not quite.
Value for Money 3/5
I want to give the pen a 4/5 but, once again the current manufacture Chinese pens are much better value for money despite their reduced durability & quality.
The nib is an italic nib. It starts reliably and does not scratch. I have a 1.1mm P51 stub that is a direct comparison. The Lamy's line variation is much less than the Parker's, and the maximum line width is only about 2/3 of the Parker's. This is because the corners have been rounded off - which makes it smoother but has a detrimental effect on the amount of italics present. There is variation, but not as much as I'd expected based on my Parker. The nib is very smooth on the side strokes compared to the Parker stub, where you feel as if occasional fibres are being picked up. It starts well, and feels as if it could be used as an everyday nib rather than the 'Special Occasion Only' feel of the Parker stub. The Lamy nib allows full speed writing, in comparison to the Parker needing a slow & thoughtful writing speed.
The nib is wet enough to do the job, without excessive drying times. I have tried it with Diamine Imperial Purple & Herbin Mint scented green ink (well, I'm told it was mint, I couldn't tell the ink had any smell), and both behaved impeccably with this pen.
There is not a lot of flex in the nib with normal pressures, but it does not feel excessively stiff either. The nib is fairly smooth, but not glassy. Feedback is adequate to tell you that the pen is going over a surface.
Drying out in the pen while not being used occurs at about the same rate as with the Parker 51, and I have not had problems with either.
The general feel of the pen is OK. I won't say it's great; The profiling of the section is such that your thumb & index fingers sit in predefined locations. This forces you to adopt a particular grip on the pen. Now, after a few hours of writing the grip does become uncomfortable, and as you can't move your fingers.. No, I'm not too keen on that. A circular section like the P51 is easier to use for a long time. I'd say an hour of continuous use is the limit before a break of 30 minutes is needed - not good for essay style exams.
The balance of the pen is OK whether posted or not.
The pen's weight is low enough to be used for hours on end, even if the grip prevents such long stints.
Getting subjective for a moment: It doesn't have that 'wow' factor for me, that would have made it into a great pen. I have a P61 that's so amazing to write with that I just drift off and concentrate on how nice it is to write with - forgetting what I'm supposed to be writing. This Lamy is nothing like that. It's a tool. A good tool, but not a joy to use.
This should be a go-anywhere, do-anything pen. Absolutely top marks as far as I'm concerned.
This pen is the best of the limited quantity of modern pens I've used. It is greatly superior to the Parker Vector & Profile, as well as various Chinese pens. It is, however, the most expensive modern pen I've tried, being more than 40% dearer than the nearest rival I've tried.
Is the pen a classic? Yes.
But what type of classic, that I do not really know. Probably a classic school pen.
In terms of the design and production engineering, it's a masterpiece. In its use, it falls rather short of that. I suspect there will be Lamy Safari's/Vista's around in 60 years time, but they will still be not as good to write with as a P51. There are vintage pens available at the moment for a similar price that offer a much better writing experience. Even my stub nibbed P51 only cost me £18 (yes, I was lucky) - fractionally more than this pen - and there is no question that the Parker is a better pen, even though it needs to be tweaked.
I won't be getting another Vista, Safari or Al-Star, but on the other hand I don't regret buying this one.
On that slightly equivocal note I shall conclude this review. The photos below show the Vista, and the P51 Stub with a small sample of writing from each.
Posted 27 August 2009 - 00:07
I agree with your comments on the engineering of the pens. I have noticed similar excellence in the rose aluminium Al Star I have.
I can't help wondering why Lamy gave their convertor a red handle, especially in a demonstrator; whatever ink you load should set the tone without competetion from the convertor. And I hate those flat sides on the convertor handle; I can't turn it unless I wrap something around it. A cylindrical handle with long, wide grooves would be much better.
Thanks for sharing your ideas.
Posted 09 September 2009 - 16:06
I believed the Lamy propaganda that the feeds were no-longer vulnerable to Noodler's BSB.
Big mistake. The pen had only had BSB in it for 4 days when the nib peeled off it. Silly me & how annoying. Back to Lamy with it, I suppose.
Posted 09 September 2009 - 16:16
Posted 05 November 2009 - 02:30
Posted 05 November 2009 - 13:14
I agree with the comments about the look of the Vista. The transparency gives it a higher level of visual interest than the dull, Communist Bloc looking design of the regular Safari line. It's also easier to tell exactly how much ink is left in the pen. The ink window in the Safaris is nice, but it really helps to see the whole converter(I even like the red tail).
Edited by rcannonp, 05 November 2009 - 21:50.
Posted 05 November 2009 - 21:15
And I think Safaris are perfect pens. I have a Charcoal Safari, an Al Star and a Vista and they are all great great great. I'm tempted to get a red one at some point just for kicks. The red ones are so cool looking.
Posted 06 November 2009 - 06:28
Posted 07 November 2009 - 18:55
They are also relatively low cost, so I do not have to worry too much about losing one. I see some of my colleagues walking around all day with their expensive fountain pens sticking out of their shirt pockets. One wrong move and a moment's inattention and the pen will fall out and be gone!
In fact, the Lamy pens in this range are my everyday office workhorses. I spend a lot of time in meetings and need to take notes, and carry two with me at all times, in case one runs out of ink. The Vista does not attract much attention, as it bears a certain resemblance to the plastic ball pens most people use.
So I would say that the Vista and its kin are not just classic "school" pens, but classic everyday office pens as well.
Posted 09 November 2009 - 18:15
Posted 09 November 2009 - 18:52
Edited by MikeF, 09 November 2009 - 18:52.
Posted 12 November 2009 - 05:15
I sing to your volcanoes, to your meadows and flowers, that are like mementos of the greatest of my loves;
If I am to die away from you, may they say I am sleeping, and bring me back home.
Posted 15 February 2010 - 03:19
Posted 15 February 2010 - 10:45
The 1.5i certainly does have nice, smoothly rounded corners.
Do the broader Lamy nibs (1.5 and 1.9) have rounded corners, too? I want to use italic nibs more, but I can't stand sharp corners. I guess I'm not disciplined enough to want to learn to write with them.
I have put a 1.5i on this pen since the review as the 1.1i nib was giving a fairly narrow line due to the rounded corners. It is now very nice and wide, as shown in the picture below:
The 1.5i nib gives about 1.1mm line width with the pressure I apply - almost identical to the Duofold Broad Italic, and the P51 1.1 Cursive Italic.
I have never had scratchiness with it. The only problem I have found is that the feed cannot keep up with the ink demand drawing it from the c/c, and the collector needs to be fairly full. Then the writing is well lubricated and smooth. As the fins empty completely the pen becomes a bit dry & unlubricated - requiring a twist on the c/c. This occurs with Visconti Red, Diamine Saddle Brown, Imperial Purple & Woodland Green and Pelikan Turquoise. It may not happen with wetter flowing inks.
I hope this helps.
Posted 15 February 2010 - 12:43
Posted 15 February 2010 - 14:05
Posted 13 June 2016 - 17:35
Thanks for the review - as a direct result I have ordered a Vista with a 1.1 nib. More interestingly perhaps, seven years later the current cost is £13.92 (including UK VAT via Cult Pens) Maybe Lamy listened !
Posted 13 June 2016 - 19:55
Thank you Richard for reviewing the Vista. Though I am not a fan of demos in general, I would most likely get this version of the Safari. I too have found that the Lamy 1.1 nib is perhaps buffed a bit more than I'd like.
However this same attribute makes this nib a lot more forgiving, particularly for a left handed writer. My wife loves her red Safari with a stock 1.1 (stub). She positions her paper at a 90 degrees & writes downward to prevent smudges.
I would like to add a personal note re the "shaped" grip of the Safari (& Vista as well). Ever since I've taken up writing with an edged nib (50 years ago), I have struggled with keeping my writing edges on the paper. My tendency to roll the grip towards me was somewhat corrected by the use of an oblique nib. Stubs are usually fairly forgiving, but sharper cursive italics can be difficult to control during longer writing sessions.
I have found that the unusual shaped section of a Safari/Vista actually helps to steady my grip. For me at least, it's a clever bit of design.
Edited by tinta, 14 June 2016 - 02:23.