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Pilot Prera: Three Nibs (F, M, & Italic)

pilot prera gpc super quality lime 78g demo

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24 replies to this topic

#1 ahtzib

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 00:27

Priced at well under $100, the steel-nibbed Prera is perhaps the epitome of an “entry level” fountain pen: it’s simple, reliable, durable, and economical.

 

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Three Preras. Writing sample on Rhodia paper.

 

But don’t be misled by the “entry level” moniker. The Prera, like other models featuring Pilot’s “Super Quality” steel nib, is a serious writing instrument that compares well to pens priced many times as much. Pilot’s out-of-the-box quality (at any price) is second to none, and the Prera affirms their commitment to excellence.

 

What makes the Prera an awesome fountain pen? Several things:

 

1.       Design. Simple, classic aesthetics. While short when capped (about 4.75”), the Prera posts to a comfortable length (of about 5.38”). It is a nice “pocket pen” that can be carried conveniently in a shirt pocked but used like a regular pen. (See pictures.)

 

2.       Nib. Though having virtually no give—the “Super Quality” nibs are quite rigid—the tipping is well ground. These SQ nibs, available in a number of Pilot models (Metropolitan, Plumix, 78G, etc.), are one of the best values out there. (See description of the various nibs below.)

 

3.       Resin. The resin in both the opaque and the clear demonstrator models is warm and tactile. They actually remind me of piano keys. It’s really nice stuff.

 

4.       Trim. Silver trim is simple but nice. (Again, classic.) The clip is quite sturdy and the chromed flat cap top is a great accent feature. The attention to detail highlights the overall quality of the pen.

 

5.       Cartridge/converter. Though proprietary, the Pilot c/c options are quite good. The cartridges have a generous capacity. They also have a wide opening, making them easy to rinse and refill. Also, they seat securely against the inside of the section and so are not prone to cracking and/or leaking, which I've experienced with many other refilled carts (e.g., international, Waterman, Lamy, etc.). As far as I can tell, the Pilot carts can be reused indefinitely without risk of leaks inside the barrel. The new version of the CON-50 converter, while still having a small ink capacity, has an ingenious agitator mechanism that solves the problem of ink getting stuck due to surface tension. The new converter is quite usable, and I change my inks frequently enough that the limited capacity doesn’t bother me too much.

 

I like the Prera so much that I have three different versions:

 

·         Configuration #1. Lime Green w/ F nib. This was my first Prera. I actually picked it up when the Lamy Safari in Lime sold out. The color is great (even brighter than the Safari) but the nib is really what makes this pen fantastic. Pilot’s “Super Quality” F nibs are really fine. Really, really fine. I’ve had a couple of these, and they write as fine (perhaps even finer?) than my Binder XXF—I’m guessing that it’s probably ground down to about 0.2 or 0.3, though I don’t have the official spec. This is the range of custom grinds or specialty nibs, and adds to the great value of this pen. (Incidentally, I eventually picked up a Safari but far prefer the Prera.)

 

·         Configuration #2. Demonstrator (Black Finials) w/ M nib. I received the M nib as a gift and thought about exchanging it, since I generally favor finer nibs. However, curiosity compelled me to try the M nib and I was amazed by how much I liked it. It is not perfectly round, but rather gives some noticeable line variation. The verticals are decidedly thicker than the horizontals; while definitely not a stubbed nib, I would qualify it as “stubbish.” Running a little dry out of the box, I increased the flow slightly and now count this nib among the best nibs I’ve ever used.

 

·         Configuration #3. Demonstrator (Red Finials) w/ italic nib. I actually bought this particular pen used at an excellent a price, then ordered a Plumix with an italic nib and swapped the original round nib myself--it's a fairly simple procedure. (Goulet Pen Co. now offers Preras for sale with the italic nib.) Unfortunately, this nib is somewhat inconsistent (and therefore vexing at times). I can say that when it works, it works well. The untipped nib is very smooth and the line has great variation. Sold as a 1.0 width, I would concur that is indeed a little finer than the Lamy Safari 1.1. However, I cannot give this nib an unqualified endorsement (much as I’d like to). It actually works best on mediocre (i.e., rough and absorbent) paper—it’s the only nib that I prefer to use on the likes of Moleskine, as its performance on that paper is nearly 100%. On smooth-finished Rhodia and Leuchtturm, my preferred papers, the performance is spottier. Though the nib generally works on these smoother papers most of the time, it will suddenly start “hydroplaning,” leaving a thin, anemic line that is a frustrating contrast to the otherwise beautiful italic line. Whether this is due to unevenness in the paper’s finish, smoothness of the nib, trace oils on the page, or some combination thereof, I cannot tell. But it is the downfall of an otherwise brilliant nib. That said, custom italics are occasionally subject to the same frustrating performance issues on smooth papers and I am glad to have this nib in my set of Preras.

 

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Three Preras.

 

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Comparison of writing samples on Fabriano paper.

 

Overall, the Prera (like all pens from Pilot) is a top-quality writing instrument. As mentioned above, it shares the nib/feed with other “entry level” Pilot offerings, such as the discontinued ultralight 78G and the metal-barrel Metropolitan. (Note that these latter two pens actually cost less than the Prera and can be obtained new for under $20.) I have never tried the Metro (though I intend to), but I do have a 78G and consider that pen the single best value out there. That said, the Prera is a solid writer and the fit/finish are first rate—it feels and performs like a much more expensive pen. This pen would make a great introduction to fountain pens as well as a regular go-to for serious writers. The sturdy construction make it especially good for use “out in the field,” anything from trips to the grocery store to business meetings. (I’ve used mine for both!) 

 

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Size comparison, posted: Lamy Safari, Pilot 78G, <b>Pilot Prera</b>, Sheaffer Sentinal.

 

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Nib comparison, Pilot "Super Quality": Gold-plated 78G and unplated Prera.


Edited by ahtzib, 11 December 2016 - 00:37.


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#2 Ada

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 00:58

A good review of a good pen. I like them so much that I also have several, one of which is an exact match for your lime green one.
I've been on a quest to see if I could commit all Seven Deadly Sins in a single day. Finally, it dawned on me I shouldn't try for the One Day Wonder Prize for all seven in one day. It's simply out of any question as you can't commit decent sloth while busily ticking the other six off your crowded "to do" list. -- ViolinWriter

#3 FlyFast

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 01:17

I'm also a fan of the Prera and own quite a few.  The fine and italics are my favorites and see use almost every day.



#4 visvamitra

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 06:58

Very nice review, thanks.



#5 Buttersoft1

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 13:38

I recently bought one of these in office works and found it to be a nice writer straight out of the box and have had no problems with it yet.
Thanx for the review and well done

#6 EBUCKTHORN

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 22:31

Thanks for that thorough review. Do you (or anyone else) have any thoughts about how the Prera compares with the TWSBI Mini?

Thanks.



#7 ahtzib

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 22:56

Between the TWSBI and the Prera, there's no contest for me; I'd definitely pick the latter. Pilot's quality for the price simply cannot be matched. The Prera's got a better nib, it's made from better resin, and it's more reliable (in my experience--ymmv, of course). If you really feel strongly about the filling system, that might tip the balance in favor of the TWSBI. But I like both c/c options for the Pilot and don't miss the integrated filler. I think Pilot products are just amazing.

 

(BTW, the Prera can also be converted to an eyedropper. I've actually done the conversion a couple of times, but generally prefer the c/c system for convenience of changing ink and consistency in regulating the ink flow.) 

 

And thanks, everyone, for the kind feedback. Much appreciated!


Edited by ahtzib, 12 December 2016 - 00:58.


#8 displacermoose

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Posted 12 December 2016 - 03:44

Thanks for that thorough review. Do you (or anyone else) have any thoughts about how the Prera compares with the TWSBI Mini?
Thanks.


I have both. They are both good pens, although quite different. The mini has a much higher ink capacity and you can get much bigger nibs. I have a B ground into an architect's point. I love it. A Prera wouldn't work for that. But the Prera is generally less finicky. The screw-to-post thing on the mini can be a pain. I've also had to the barrel after it cracked. The Prera is just there. Absolutely reliable. For me, the Prera generally comes out on top (the fact that it's cheaper doesn't hurt), but the mini is also a worthy pen. I don't regret either of them. But I have 2 Preras and only 1 mini. I'm considering a 3rd Prera, but I think I'm good for minis.

Edited by displacermoose, 12 December 2016 - 03:53.

Yet another Sarah.


#9 tartuffo

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 01:50

 

....

 

(BTW, the Prera can also be converted to an eyedropper. I've actually done the conversion a couple of times, but generally prefer the c/c system for convenience of changing ink and consistency in regulating the ink flow.) 

 

....

 

 

I have two Preras and eyedroppered one ( a Royal Blue demo )  but had to give up on it and go back to the converter as it started to leak through the rear portion of the barrel. 

 

But they  still  rate very high on my top twenty pen list !!! 



#10 EBUCKTHORN

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 15:28

I'm a Mini fan but you all are convincing me to try a Prera-which I will do today.  Are Prera nibs interchangeable? Thanks.



#11 ahtzib

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 16:02

Yes, you can change the nibs on the Prera relatively easily. The nibs and feed are friction-fit and just pull out of the section. There's a notch in the feed that aligns the nib, and you just push the assembly back in. I swapped out a round nib for an italic with no problem. I also pull the nib and feed occasionally to clean (like when I'm changing out my Stormy Grey ink, for instance.)



#12 Jamerelbe

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 01:06

I'm a Mini fan but you all are convincing me to try a Prera-which I will do today.  Are Prera nibs interchangeable? Thanks.

Prera nibs can be interchanged with Metropolitan, Plumix and Penmanship nibs - also Pilot 78G nibs, though these are gold-plated so aren't 'compatible' visually...



#13 EBUCKTHORN

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 13:56

Thanks for the nib interchangeability info. I ordered a Prera with a medium nib yesterday. I have a Metropolitan that I like except for the steep step between the barrel and section so that will be a candidate as a nib donor.



#14 dan in montreal

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 14:37

Thanks for the review. I don't use my Preras as often as I should, but after reading this, I might just get one inked up!



#15 Shaggy

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 21:41

My three Preras are my everyday carry. Small enough for any pocket, not a big loss if one is lost, and able to take any of the Pilot "super quality"  steel nibs. I have a fine, medium, and stub (swapped in from a Plumix) in mine, with Iroshizuku inks. They're always banging around in the bottom of my purse.

 

Thanks for a great review of a pen that IMO doesn't get enough love.



#16 ahtzib

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 01:25

Thanks for the feedback. I agree that there's something really cool about that trio of nibs: F, M, and italic. I actually think of them as a set, even though the lime-green model really stands out from the demos. (Now, if only that italic were a little more reliable...!)

 

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The Preras in my zipper case from Paradis Pens



#17 amberleadavis

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 03:56

Prera nibs can be interchanged with Metropolitan, Plumix and Penmanship nibs - also Pilot 78G nibs, though these are gold-plated so aren't 'compatible' visually...

 

HMMMM  I have a couple of customized Plumix nibs, I may try and switch these out.  The Prera italic is just not wet enough for my tastes.


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#18 Shaggy

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 06:35

 
HMMMM  I have a couple of customized Plumix nibs, I may try and switch these out.  The Prera italic is just not wet enough for my tastes.


I have a Prera with a Plumix nib in it. Works great for me. Currently inked with Yama Budo.

#19 bone215

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 21:30

I asked Santa for one with an M nib.


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#20 mehandiratta

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Posted 21 December 2016 - 07:46

Thanks for the feedback. I agree that there's something really cool about that trio of nibs: F, M, and italic. I actually think of them as a set, even though the lime-green model really stands out from the demos. (Now, if only that italic were a little more reliable...!)

 

31543789005_1f888ce3df_z.jpg

The Preras in my zipper case from Paradis Pens

 

italic on 78g have also given me trouble...

that was precise review...thank you


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