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Pilot Prera Review


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#1 gmcalabr

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 02:23

Hello all,

I've finally decided after much lurking around the forums to review my 'equipment'. Unfortunately, I will be submitting pictures, but since all I have at this time is my cell phone, I won't be posting beauty pics (RIP Nikon D40).

I'm going to keep categories simple: Aesthetics, writing performance, and price. Ultimately, nice pens are a work of art (aesthetics) and a tool (writing performance), so I'll treat reviews as such.


For my first review, my Lime Green Pilot Prera!

Aesthetics: 8/10

The first thing I noticed was that the color was not as atomic/bright/neon green as I assumed, and I expected a harsher color to arrive in the mail. As bright as the green is, it's still soft (not quite pastel). This is a good thing; it keeps the pen from standing out and screaming, and tones it back to a "crazy old Italian man with rolled up skinny jeans and classy leather shoes type" of style.

This pen really looks and feels classy. Yes, it's internally a Pilot 78G/Penmanship/etc., but there's a big difference here, this feels really good. It has that light weight sturdiness to it that is totally missing in my 78Gs. The cap makes a very nice, albeit plasticy click when coming off and on that I love.

Yes, it's a small, light pen, but I have small hands. This is bigger than my Estie SJ in both length and girth, but it's notably small even to non-fountain pen people. It's still comfortable, especially with the cap posted. I tend to hold the pen pretty far back from the nib, but this pen works well close or far. My one gripe is that the CON-50 converter that I have in the pen has a widget in it that rattles when you move the pen sometimes. Maybe this adds aesthetic interest, and if I used a cartride, I'd miss the feel and sound, but as of now I'm annoyed slightly by it.

I could have had the green, white, or yellow Prera all equally. I think this pen would get boring with any of the more subdued/common colors. The light blue is nice as well, but since I went to NC State University, I could not get 'Carolina Blue' pen.

Prera Clip.jpg

One nice little bit that no one seems to notice: the clip. I don't know if this was intentional, but I'll give Pilot credit. As I've pointed out above, there's a little bend area in the top of the clip. Maybe it's just for looks but this seems to serve a purpose: when you clip this pen in a jeans pocket, the thick hem of the pocket sits right in that space. It really settles in nicely. Again, fitting in with the rolled up jeans and sport coat look.

Writing Performance: 7/10

Ultimately, this is a nice looking pen, the top of the line for Pilots that still use Pilot's 2nd cheapest nib/feed combo. Let's be honest, there's nothing WRONG with these nibs, but they're not particularly exciting either. There are limited line width options (F, M), more if you don't mind buying another $10-15 pen and swapping nibs (XF, B stub). So these range from a Japanese XF to a western F, really. I'm ok with this since I write very tiny letters, but others may not be. I very much enjoy my 78G's broad stub (which is a fine-to-med stub), enough that I may eventually get a Penmanship to swap into the Prera to give an extra little flair to the writing. Both the F and Bstub write on the dry side.

2013-04-09_21-34-52_102.jpg
Clairfontaine 90g, 5 lines/inch. Yes, this is my normal handwriting size. In engineering school, I used to write 2-3 lines of equation in one line of paper. So yes, I do like my fine Japanese nibs.

In terms of ink storage, this is a cart/converter pen. I actually prefer this over other filling mechanisms for the flexibility and replacability. I don't do enough writing to empty a converter in 2 days, and I usually get anxious to try another ink before I run out anyway. Also, remember that since this pen has a dry, fine nib, it really don't use much ink.

One last note on reliability. There are three kinds of pens: ones that won't write immediately if they've sat for a few days, those that start up immediately even after a month of sitting, and those that either leak into their caps all the time or dry up and require cleaning after only 3 days of sitting. The Prera is the kind that will always bail you out. I've had Noodler's Bulletproof Black sitting for 2-3 weeks and wrote immediately.

Price: 7/10
At $50, it's not cheap, especially knowing that a blind man would know no difference if he were handed this or any $10-30 Pilot. But it looks and feels good. TWSBI is the only pen in the price range that I would consider over this, and even the TWSBI XF is too broad for my normal writing. It's worth that price because you can take this out on a night on the town as a piece of fashion; I wouldn't be caught in a sport coat with my 78G. I'm glad I have it, and all of the color make this pen more desirable.

Other notes:
I've used Bulletproof Black and Tsuku-yo in this pen so far, and Black was awesome. Tsuku-yo writes well, but the ink looks best out of a wetter nib. I would love to see a dark brown, maybe Yama-Guri, a magenta (Yama-Budo), or a violet (North African Violet) coming out of a green and silver pen. I hesitate to use a violet ink in a light-colored plastic pen over staining concerns though.



That was much longer than I intended. It's amazing how one can come into a review hoping to keep things short and end up with 3 pages.

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#2 brunico

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 02:57

Nice review, thanks, gmcalabr, and interesting point about the clip.

I thought about the Prera for a long time. I love lime green, and I have a ton of italic nibs from the Plumix and Pluminix that I wanted to put into a pen that was shorter, had a slip cap and, well, just looked a bit prettier. But in the UK it was £55 - that's $85 - which makes it not a lot of pen for the money, and twenty bucks more expensive than a Twsbi. Buying elsewhere brings it to roughly the price of an Al-Star, which is where it should be competing. You give up the Lamy ink window, but, if you're using the Pilot italics, you gain more interesting nibs.

Honestly, I got a Sailor Sapporo from Japan - with its wonderful (gold) nib - for less than the cost of a Prera in the UK, which is just crazy. The UK Pilot distributor is damned annoying. They keep prices massively inflated and uncompetitive, they don't distribute half the fountain pens Pilot makes, and they wouldn't lift a finger to help me source some different nib sizes. But those nibs are so good, and their ink is so seductive...

The old CON-50 never had that metal gizmo, and it worked fine for me. I think the new one is a solution in search of a problem. But the Prera: a delightful, light, compact pen... and great value for the money if you get it at the right price!

#3 PorterPie

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 03:18

I also have the lime green Prera with a medium nib and it's a fun little pen to carry in a pocket. The snap cap feels secure. However, it skipped when I tried a few Noodler's ink samples in it - the Air Corp Blue-Black and Baystate Blue - so I went back to the Sheaffer's Jet black and that works just fine. Maybe I'll give the Noodler's Black or X Feather sample a try.

#4 gmcalabr

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 04:13

Thank you guys!

Honestly, I got a Sailor Sapporo from Japan - with its wonderful (gold) nib - for less than the cost of a Prera in the UK, which is just crazy. The UK Pilot distributor is damned annoying. They keep prices massively inflated and uncompetitive, they don't distribute half the fountain pens Pilot makes, and they wouldn't lift a finger to help me source some different nib sizes. But those nibs are so good, and their ink is so seductive...


I don't blame you. My next 3 pens on the list are a Sailor 1911, Pilot VP (cause it's the only VP under $500), and the Pilot Myu. My Sailor High-Ace was (more or less) my first FP and I still think it's nearly perfect. I'd take a Sapporo over a Prera if they weren't 3 times the price in The States.

I also have the lime green Prera with a medium nib and it's a fun little pen to carry in a pocket. The snap cap feels secure. However, it skipped when I tried a few Noodler's ink samples in it - the Air Corp Blue-Black and Baystate Blue - so I went back to the Sheaffer's Jet black and that works just fine. Maybe I'll give the Noodler's Black or X Feather sample a try.


From my experience with Kung Te Cheng and Whaleman's Sepia, I'd imaine flow might be an issue in any pen that isn't already very wet. Noodler's BB is really perfect in this thing, and anything Iroshizuku will probably do very well also.

Greg

Edited by gmcalabr, 10 April 2013 - 04:15.


#5 tguk911

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 06:13

I love my Prera demo. I have the one with the light blue. It was my first fountain pen. I only paid 40 but I had to wait about 4 weeks cause I got it mailed Sal and it took customs forever to clear (Customs actually told me it never left Japan but it actually was sitting in JFK and it never got scanned).

I don't know why Pilot chooses to charge so much because the Prera is around $30 bucks in Japan which brings it to about the pricing of the Safari which isn't too bad. I'm pretty sure it was marketed in Japan for people starting out with Fountain pens also which is where the pre comes from (I saw this on a rakuten.jp seller so I'm not sure if this is correct). I'm not sure the pens are imported either since the packaging is different for the US and Japan versions but even if they were imported over here a $25 mark up on the pen is a little crazy.

I love Pilot cause I like fine Japanese nibs but I will probably only buy their pens from Japan but anyways the steel nib on here is pretty nice and writes a nice tight line in the fine and since the con-50 doesn't hold a lot of ink, I don't mind that it writes a little dry like was mentioned in the review. I did see someone convert one of these to an eyedropper though which looked pretty cool if someone did really care about the ink capacity, I personally wouldn't do it though. Also if you get a Pilot Metropolitan which is only $15 and only comes in medium you can switch the nibs like you can with the Plumix, Penmanship, 78G, and I think the Knight.

I really like how small it is though so it's usually always with me on the go but I sometimes forget it's even there since it's so light and tiny. If you post your pens though this pen might be a little too small for you so you should prob check the specs before you buy cause it is really small which you can't tell too much from pictures by itself since it does have a decent diameter.

#6 Motomo

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 11:32

I took the plunge last week and ordered one of these with the orange accents. Received it yesterday and filled it this morning and I am quite impressed. I needed a very fine pen to use on inventory sheets at work and since my regular pens even with a western fine were too wide and too wet I think this will fit the bill perfectly. It writes a bit dry so I will have to experiment with some different inks...I have it filled at the moment with PR Sepia which tends to be dry so I am not sure this is a great combination since I am noticing a bit of skipping....

Good value for the money and the size is about the same as my Pelikan m150 which is one of my favorite pens.
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#7 Pen2009

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 11:41

I have a Prera with an F nib. I was able to have it adjusted at Pilot's pen museum in Tokyo. After that adjustment, the pen writes very nicely. Before adjustments, it was too dry and skip-prone.
My collection: 149 EF/F/B/OBB, Collodi B/Twain F/Mann F, 146 M, Silver Barley F, M1000/M800 B'o'B/M800 Tortoise/Sahara/415 BT/215/205 Blue Demo, Optima Demo Red M/88 EF & Italic/Europa, Emotica, 2K/Safaris/Al-Stars/Vista, Edson DB/Carene BS, Pilot 845/823/742/743/Silvern/M90/Makies, Sailor Profit Realo M/KOP Makies/Profit Makies/Profit 21 Naginata MF&M/KOP/KOP Mosaiques/Sterling Silvers,Platinum #3776 Celluloids/Izumos/Wood pens/Sterling Silvers,YoL Grand Victorian, and more (I lost counting)

#8 ToySoldier

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 11:51

gmcalabr,
I just received the exact same pen/color yesterday. Loaded up with Kon-Peki, I'm loving it so far. It sits very nicely in my shirt pocket without weighing it down and with the way the clip sits (like a "military clip"), it allows the pen to sit down nicely and not shout it's lime green color.

I, too, am an NCSU graduate....meteorology.

#9 gmcalabr

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:26

gmcalabr,
I just received the exact same pen/color yesterday. Loaded up with Kon-Peki, I'm loving it so far. It sits very nicely in my shirt pocket without weighing it down and with the way the clip sits (like a "military clip"), it allows the pen to sit down nicely and not shout it's lime green color.

I, too, am an NCSU graduate....meteorology.


Go Pack! Recent graduate? I had a friend in meteorology who graduated with me a few of years ago.

You're probably the only one on here that understands my user name.


I assume you mean that the clip goes all the way to the top of the pen, "military clip". I do like this as well sometimes, although I've found it to be a pain when clipping this in my Franklin-Christoph -style pen case that I made.

Greg

#10 Vshin

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 11:02

The Prera is a great shirt pocket pen but the nib is rather cheap and can bend easily. The cap will also get looser with time and then the nib dries out while capped.
Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.

#11 ToySoldier

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 17:13

gmcalabr,
I just received the exact same pen/color yesterday. Loaded up with Kon-Peki, I'm loving it so far. It sits very nicely in my shirt pocket without weighing it down and with the way the clip sits (like a "military clip"), it allows the pen to sit down nicely and not shout it's lime green color.

I, too, am an NCSU graduate....meteorology.


Go Pack! Recent graduate? I had a friend in meteorology who graduated with me a few of years ago.

You're probably the only one on here that understands my user name.


I assume you mean that the clip goes all the way to the top of the pen, "military clip". I do like this as well sometimes, although I've found it to be a pain when clipping this in my Franklin-Christoph -style pen case that I made.

Greg

'89 grad - 91 Master's

Yes, the clip goes all the way to the top of the pen...so there's nothing sticking up out of the pocket.

#12 AlejoPlay

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 17:23

I saw the demonstrator Preras sold at Ito-Ya in Tokyo with stubs. I really should have grabbed one. They had them filled with Iroshizuku so you can write with the inks.

#13 kram175

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 21:51

I picked up one of those stubs there a couple weeks ago. It's the CM nib (calligraphy medium), and I'm very happy with it. A really smooth nib, and a lot of fun to use. I've got iroshizuku Ku-jaku in it now. I might grab another one so I can have two colors ready to go.

I saw the demonstrator Preras sold at Ito-Ya in Tokyo with stubs. I really should have grabbed one. They had them filled with Iroshizuku so you can write with the inks.



#14 Pen2009

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 00:57

The Prera is a great shirt pocket pen but the nib is rather cheap and can bend easily. The cap will also get looser with time and then the nib dries out while capped.

How many months have you used your Prera before the cap started getting loose? I used my Prera a few weeks only (it has been off my rotation for quite a while); but, based on my limited time with my Prera, the capping mechanism seems to be well designed against the wear.

Edited by Pen2009, 13 April 2013 - 00:58.

My collection: 149 EF/F/B/OBB, Collodi B/Twain F/Mann F, 146 M, Silver Barley F, M1000/M800 B'o'B/M800 Tortoise/Sahara/415 BT/215/205 Blue Demo, Optima Demo Red M/88 EF & Italic/Europa, Emotica, 2K/Safaris/Al-Stars/Vista, Edson DB/Carene BS, Pilot 845/823/742/743/Silvern/M90/Makies, Sailor Profit Realo M/KOP Makies/Profit Makies/Profit 21 Naginata MF&M/KOP/KOP Mosaiques/Sterling Silvers,Platinum #3776 Celluloids/Izumos/Wood pens/Sterling Silvers,YoL Grand Victorian, and more (I lost counting)

#15 gmcalabr

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 05:38

The Prera is a great shirt pocket pen but the nib is rather cheap and can bend easily. The cap will also get looser with time and then the nib dries out while capped.

How many months have you used your Prera before the cap started getting loose? I used my Prera a few weeks only (it has been off my rotation for quite a while); but, based on my limited time with my Prera, the capping mechanism seems to be well designed against the wear.


I'm curious as well. As I'm a chronic fidget, I consider myself to have put on a few years worth of wear in the 3 months that I've had the pen. The cap is as solid as ever.

Greg

#16 Vshin

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 03:26

The Prera is a great shirt pocket pen but the nib is rather cheap and can bend easily. The cap will also get looser with time and then the nib dries out while capped.

How many months have you used your Prera before the cap started getting loose? I used my Prera a few weeks only (it has been off my rotation for quite a while); but, based on my limited time with my Prera, the capping mechanism seems to be well designed against the wear.


I used the Prera for about a year of HEAVY use, keeping it in my shirt pocket. I usually cap-uncapped the pen approximately 20 times throughout the day since I tend to jot lots of quick notes during work. No long writing sessions. Had to give up on the pen once the ink started drying out quicker (facilitated by a loose cap and body heat). The nib really isn't special for something that costs over $50. In fact I think it's the same nib Pilot uses on their Metropolitan line.

Despite this, it's still one of the lighter pens with a nice clip that lets the pen sit low inside the pocket.
Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.

#17 gmcalabr

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 15:56

I used the Prera for about a year of HEAVY use, keeping it in my shirt pocket. I usually cap-uncapped the pen approximately 20 times throughout the day since I tend to jot lots of quick notes during work. No long writing sessions. Had to give up on the pen once the ink started drying out quicker (facilitated by a loose cap and body heat). The nib really isn't special for something that costs over $50. In fact I think it's the same nib Pilot uses on their Metropolitan line.


Interesting. I probably won't experience this since I rotate through my pens and don't use one daily for weeks on end. Good to keep in mind though.

I agree with you on the nib point too, but the problem is this: the Penmanship, Plumix, 78G, Knight, Metropolitan, Prera all have the same nib/feed. All good choices, but none are as small as the Prera, and none fit that very eye-catching, fashion-forward business casual look (few pens do). I don't particularly like the looks of the rest, but I'd highly recommend any or people who like their style. Also, I think $50 seems like a reasonable price for the Prera when you don't know you could buy a $12 pen that writes exactly the same.

And for competition outside of Pilot? There are some, mainly the better Chinese pens, but it seems tough to find a reliable Japanese F nib. The Nemosine Singularity EF is very similar to the Pilot nibs, but is large and a demo. Most price competitors (Lamy/TWSBI/etc.) have EF nibs that look like markers compared to the Pilot F. Besides, it's a cheap nib, but it's a really nice cheap nib. It doesn't disappoint, it just doesn't feel like gold.

#18 Fakie

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 17:20

Have had a white Prera for about a year. The cap still feels the same to me

#19 thag

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 23:56

Pilot Prera. I Love this pen. Compact. Available in nine solid colors and seven demonstrator colors. F, N or Calligraphy Medium nib.

 

This is a very solid pen. I recently purchased a Pelikan M200 for a hundred bucks. At less than half the price, the Prera is a far better pen! The only thing the Pelikan has on the Prera is the piston fill.

 

The Prera can be had on sale for $35.00 U.S. at stationeryart.com and the solid colors $25.

Shipping is $5. Ships from Hong Kong. Payment is PayPal.

 

The Calligraphy Medium nib is only available from JetPens.com at this time.


-----------------------------------
I am but a simple caveman

#20 Edwaroth

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 22:20

Pilot Prera can be had, in solid colors from stationeryart.com for 25 USD + shipping. So there!


Edited by Edwaroth, 01 June 2013 - 22:23.







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