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Fountain Pen Review - Camlin "cute"


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#1 Eeyvind

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 17:30

This is my first fountain pen review, so constructive criticism would be appreciated. Reviews are only as valuable as they are useful, so help me improve.

Introduction

The Camlin Cute is a fun little pen for a reasonable price. I ordered mine from fountainpenrevolution.com. It arrived in a sturdy cardboard box with the other items from my order, wrapped individually in a protective sleeve. I was definitely satisfied with the packaging and shipping, but it should be noted that this is not a pen that comes in a gift box or with any paperwork. This pen was an impulse purchase based on its retro appearance, and as you’ll see I have been satisfied. So far I have only been writing with it for about a week and a half, so I will try to revisit this review after I have had more time with it to make sure I am not still in my “honeymoon” phase.

Appearance & Design

In terms of appearance, this pen struck me as kind of old fashioned. It looks to me like a pen from a prior era, although I do not know enough fountain pen history to actually name a model that it resembles. The flat ends, the ball clip and the hooded top of the cap scream retro in my eyes. I found the look overall appealing and worthy of the name “Cute”.

In terms of design, this pen has some nice features that I appreciated. The end of the barrel is threaded to provide a firm place to post the cap (more on the importance of that below) without worrying about scraping up the barrel. Also, the top of the cap screws off to allow adjustments to the clip. That should appeal to the more OCD among us who like to have their clips aligned in certain way.

I give this pen a 7 out of 10. However,I note that given the stylized appearance, this score could vary greatly based on your preferences.

Construction & Quality

The construction of this pen was a pleasant surprise. This pen is solid and has good balance. The cap fits tightly and has a breather hole for pressure equalization. The clip on the cap is adequately springy and easy to use. The interior of the barrel seems to be reinforced with some rubber (possibly some additional resin). I would not be worried about dropping this pen (if it was capped) or throwing it in my bag to travel.

One drawback would be the “resin smell” that it has had since I received it. If you have a Noodlers Ahab or Konrad, you know what I mean. It has gotten appreciably better in the time I have had it, but is still present. I expect the smell will go away completely eventually.

I give this pen a 7 out of 10. This is a good, solid pen, but it has a bit of an odor when new.

Weight & Dimensions

I am not going to provide a full run-down of the dimensions of the pen because a previous review by kiethiemann already has all of that information and some great detail photos of the pen. That review can be found here (http://www.fountainp...98-camlin-cute/). For the sake of a size comparison, I provided the photos below showing the Cute next to some recognizable pens for reference. As you can see, this is a small pen.

I have relatively large hands and generally prefer larger pens. That said, the “Cute” has a nice width to it, especially given its length. Because it is so short, this pen is unusable for me unposted. However, the threading on the end of the barrel permits easy and firm posting (no wiggling here). When posted, this pen fits rather comfortably in my hand, but my fingers end up resting on the threaded portion of the section. It definitely works, but is not ideal.

This pen has a nice weight and is well balanced. I have not had fatigue writing with it. It does not take excessive effort to move the pen across the paper.

I give this pen a 5 out of 10. This pen will not be an everyday writer for me because of its size. I applaud the efforts of the designers here though in giving the pen a good width and balancing it well, and I think this pen will work for most people so long as they post the cap. My advice here is to check out the photos below to see how it stacks up against some other pens you may have and draw a conclusion from that as to whether the size will be an issue for you.


Nib & Performance

This is another area where this pen surprised me. With a quick flushing, this pen has written great out of the box. It is not butter-smooth, but it lays down a fine and relatively wet line. It has not dried out on me even after a couple of days with no use (capped), and I have not had a hard start with it yet. I had misgivings about the fine point given the cheap paper used in my office, but this pen handled it very well. For the price point, this is a good deal.

As an aside, I was very happy to see this pen write well out of the box because it has the smallest nib I have ever used. For reference, the coin in that photo below is a US dime. I wouldn’t know how to tune this nib if I had to, and it probably would have ended up in a drawer.

Just in case anybody was curious, this is a steel nib with no flex. I can’t imagine a flex nib of this size anyway.

I give this pen a 7 out of 10. This pen will not blow you away, but it performs well and is reliable.

Filling System and Maintenance

This pen is a good old-fashioned eyedropper. The thread joining the barrel and the section are nice and tight, which I appreciate in an eye-dropper. I have not had any leaking from the joint of the section and the barrel. The ink reservoir is in the barrel of the pen and holds about one mL of ink. Again, I was pleasantly surprised with the ink capacity given the pen’s size. It may not be a sexy piston filler, but it works well.

All parts of the pen come apart with no tools. The feed and nib are friction fit into the section. Routine maintenance should be a snap. However, one drawback is that I have not found a vendor for replacement nibs of this small size. As far as I can tell, if your nib goes then the pen goes.

I give this pen a 5 out of 10. I am a sucker for simplicity, and filling systems do not get any simpler. However, I had to knock some points off for the unique nib size, which could prohibit a do-it-yourself repair.


Cost & Value

I bought this pen from founainpenrevolution.com, where it currently retails for $12. As far as I know, that is the only place to purchase it if you are from the US. I have to assume it is available at a much lower price in India, but the plain ticket is pretty cost prohibitive for me.

For that price, I think this is a great pen. I gave somewhat low scores in the previous categories out of respect for a 10 point system (i.e. not every pen is a 10 out of 10), but this is a category where a middling score will not do. I think the solid construction, good performance and low price more than offset the drawbacks I have noted above.

I give this pen a 9 out of 10. This pen is a great value for the money.

Conclusion

I definitely like this pen. It writes the way I like pens to write, it has not been finicky, and it is nice and solid. If it were bigger, it would be in my everyday pen rotation, but I think it will be more of an occasional use item for me. Unless you have a think for big pens, I would recommend this as a solid addition to your workhorse pen stable.

Overall Score - 6.67 out of 10



Comparison Photos

Below are photos of this pen next to some popular models both capped and with the cap posted. My apologies for the somehwat blurry photos. From top to bottom they are:

1- TWSBI 540
2 - Levenger Truewriter
3 - Hero 616
4 - Lamy 2000
5 - Pelikan 205
6 - Camlin Cute

FPN - Camlin Cute Review - Capped.jpg
FPN - Camlin Cute Review - Cap Posted.jpg

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#2 Uncle Red

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 19:08

That is a tiny nib but I think the nib on the Lamy is smaller. :D Good review, the only thing missing is a writing sample.

#3 rwilsonedn

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 19:49

Thanks for the detailed, thoughtful review. They found the perfect name for this little guy.
And thanks for using smaller numbers! I think sometimes we are so happy with our new pens that we automatically use 8s and 9s when what we mean to say is "this pen is a bit nicer than my average pen. So a pen that's pretty nice gets an 8.5, and one that's really fabulous gets a 9.7, while a pen that really stinks (not in the literal sense) gets a 5.

#4 hari317

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 20:03

I have one of these pens that i bought from a store in Coimbatore. The nib is the 00 size same as the nib found on the camlin 47. However i never inked my example. when i checked the pen at home, i found it suffered from a loose feed in the section. Almost certain to misbehave.

That day i was really hunting for FPs in that city, i was there only for a few hours, i was glad i found at least this one shop carrying FPs. Bought 750 ml bottles of bril royal blue and also one example each of all the FPs in his store, the cute was one of the pens.

hari
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#5 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 28 July 2012 - 10:01

looks interesting thanks for sharing
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#6 vishnukamath8

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 15:51

I have a Camlin Cute in my collection. The threading is all gone. I will try and fix it. There is a Department Store called Mahabazaar near where I live in Mathikere in Bangalore. Ground floor is grocery and the first floor is other stuff including stationery. His pen counter was the usual stuff- ball and gel pens. The important guy at the cash box shooed me away when I asked for fountain pens. However the boy at the counter called me away and pulled out boxes of old style Fps. Most of them were Camlins. There was a brand new Cute- in blue I think. I got others- Camlins 10, 11 and 21. I also got a Bril 52B with a transparent barrel. Two of them cost Rs. 40=00 each. He did not know the price of the others. I suggested a price of Rs. 25=00 each and he reaily accepted my suggestion.

Vishnu :)

#7 Seele

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 17:19

I have a Camlin Cute in my collection. The threading is all gone. I will try and fix it. There is a Department Store called Mahabazaar near where I live in Mathikere in Bangalore. Ground floor is grocery and the first floor is other stuff including stationery. His pen counter was the usual stuff- ball and gel pens. The important guy at the cash box shooed me away when I asked for fountain pens. However the boy at the counter called me away and pulled out boxes of old style Fps. Most of them were Camlins. There was a brand new Cute- in blue I think. I got others- Camlins 10, 11 and 21. I also got a Bril 52B with a transparent barrel. Two of them cost Rs. 40=00 each. He did not know the price of the others. I suggested a price of Rs. 25=00 each and he reaily accepted my suggestion.

Vishnu :)


At times I wonder why the senior sales staff feel reluctant to sell fountain pens - or anything at all, as reported at other forums. You sure got a nice trawl; I am envious; I am not terribly familiar with the models not sold by Kevin at FPR, the Bril transparent 52B sounds really nice too! :thumbup:
No, I am not going to list my pens here.

#8 breaker

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 19:40

nice review!
thanks!
Cogito ergo sum

#9 Eeyvind

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:55

I promised to revisit the review once I had used the pen a bit more, and I am happy to report that my initial impressions were correct. One addition is that towards the end of the fill, the ink flowed a bit faster but there was no blurting or burping of ink, which was a nice surprise. I have other eyedroppers that require some pretty significant monitoring once they go below half full. I still think this is a good pen for the money, but it will not be a mainstay in my rotation.

#10 vishnukamath8

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 12:39

I tried to fix the Camlin Cute. Not only the threading is totally gone (gone bald!) but the nib and feeder fell out and the plastic granules seem to be shedding out of the barrel and the nib holder. I pulled of the nib and hope to reuse it elsewhere. I went to Mahabazaar and got myself a new Cute for Rs. 40=00. Can some one tell me why the threading wore off while sitting unused.
Vishnu :)

#11 Octavius Caesar

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 16:46

I tried to fix the Camlin Cute. Not only the threading is totally gone (gone bald!) but the nib and feeder fell out and the plastic granules seem to be shedding out of the barrel and the nib holder. I pulled of the nib and hope to reuse it elsewhere. I went to Mahabazaar and got myself a new Cute for Rs. 40=00. Can some one tell me why the threading wore off while sitting unused.
Vishnu :smile:

It's disappointing, specially because fountain pens are so personal! I would suggest (since you've already purchased a new Cute) that unless you have a really big hand, try to write WITHOUT the cap on. See, a pen is ultimately a machine & a machine is bound to undergo wear & tear. I can't understand why the nib & feeder fell out...I guess the pen itself was faulty from the very beginning. It's sheer bad luck! Hope your new Cute gives you far better service!








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