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Visconti Hs Lava Steel Midi F (Expanding Long Term Review)

visconti homo sapiens lava steel midi

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49 replies to this topic

#1 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 14:05

fpn_1545485073__7aeaa7c2-fb03-4738-a8e3-

Why now?
I'm several years late to the party, because until now I did not dare to join the party. I've been in love with the design of the HS Lava pens since I first laid eyes on them, but there were too many horror stories about overpolished nibs, overly wet pens, ink seeping through the pen, parts coming off of pens and a plethora of other faults. And the ones that I tried thus far were too smooth, too wet and too devoid of control for me.

Based on helpful comments in this discussion, I felt like giving them another shot so I walked over to Appelboom today and tried three pens: a Midi F, a full-size bronze F and a full-size bronze EF (M and B are not my cup of tea). I bought the Midi, for reasons explained below.

Evolving long-term review
I'll try to turn this into an evolving review, from first impressions to long-haul user experiences. In most cases, my initial feelings towards a pen changed over time. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. We'll see how the HS fares.

Choosing the size and the nib
My eyes lusted after the full-size bronze pens. The HS Lava Bronze is the most beautiful fountain pen I've seen thus far, by far, ever. My hands told a different story. Surprisingly, the significantly smaller nib of the Midi was _way_ softer and bouncier than the full-size nibs. The difference wasn't subtle, it was really really noticeable. The full-size EF really was an EF: narrow. It was also feedbacky to the point of being somewhat scratchy and it didn't feel bouncy at all. The full-size F seemed excellent, until I changed to the Midi F. In comparison, the full-sized F was much more rigid and less refined than the Midi F. To their credit, all three nibs wrote problem-free: no skipping, no hard starting, no baby's bottom, and no rivers of ink. In terms of size, the Midi fits my hand a little better than the full-sized pens. The Midi is one of the few pens that allow me to write with a totally relaxed hand and wrist. I have many pens that I adore in terms of feedback and writing sensation, but very often my hand and wrist get tired after a while. Not so with the HS Midi. It's a perfect pen for me in terms of ergonomics. Last but not least, I got a really good deal on this pen, so I took the plunge.

Construction
My pen seems to be well built, no flaws, no issues, first impression after careful inspection is that the pen is immaculately built. Its colour is much more grey-ish than most Lava pens. This put me off initially, but it's growing on me fast. It's a unique colour and a pleasant deviation from all-black.

Filling and writing
No instructions whatsoever come with the pen. None. You're on your own with this one. As expected, the filial unscrews and it does so in a confident and well-engineerd way. The rising filial hints at a plunger filler and even though own all the common filling systems to be found in fountain pens, I was fooled for a minute in trying to pull out the plunger. I silently wonder if somewhere, someone damaged his pen this way for lack of instructions. The pen contains about 1.0 mL of ink, which is comparable with most converters found in C/C pens. As first ink, I chose Waterman Mysterious Blue, a well-behaved, medium-wet ink that can show nice shading in the right pen. After a couple of lines of writing, the feed emptied of excess ink and the pen reached equilibrium. Its wetness is, well, ideal. It's certainly not the gusher that so many reviews warn of. There is nice shading and drying time is manageable for most writing purposes.

fpn_1545485267__1550997f-45d3-4bd7-9658-

The nib is fantastic. It's soft and bouncy and responsive. And it's _not_ overly smooth. There is feedback, very subtle, the right kind in the right amount. The only other pen that I have that rivals the feel of this Visconti is an old 1957 Montblanc 342 with semi-flex nib. As many before me have said: if you get a good one, the HS is perfection. Very true.

Let's see how I feel about it after a solid week of writing!

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#2 ItsMeDave

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 14:26

Congratulations, nice pen.

#3 PAKMAN

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 16:37

Thanks for the review! Hope you continue to enjoy this unique pen!


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#4 biancitwo

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 16:45

Excellent idea for a post. A lot is written about the larger HS Lava. I regret not getting the one in Columbus that started my mild fixation. Till your post, I hadn’t really considered the Midi. Thank you.

#5 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 17:31

Thanks!

#6 langere

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 20:10

I have large Bronze and I love it.  But I can understand that others might not want such a heavy pen.  I bought mine when there were no other options, but am content with mine.  

 

I am glad that you are enjoying yours and I i hope to come back to this thread over time to see how your feelings towards this pen have evolved.

 

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#7 Says

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 20:19

My Maxi bronze is still one of my go tos and favorite pens so far too... but its interesting what you say about the midi nib being bouncier... are they the same nibs and you just got lucky? Or are they significantly different? Anyone knows?


Edited by Says, 23 December 2018 - 06:45.


#8 Driften

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 00:38

The Midi HS's are captured converters which is no big deal. They just aren't vac fillers. I didn't notice any difference in flexibility between my midi Medici and my Maxi HS Elegance, but both of mine are B's and maybe the wider nibs have a different flexibility then the F/XF.

 

I hope you HS works out well for you for years to come. I love the shape of the sections and feel of both sizes of those pens. 



#9 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 07:35

... but its interesting what you say about the midi nib being bouncier... are they the same nibs and you just got lucky? Or are they significantly different? Anyone knows?


The maxi nib is 40% larger than the Midi nib. I tried two maxi nibs (EF and F) and one Midi nib. That's hardly a representative test so I can't comment on the character of these nibs in general. The two maxi nibs were very similar in stiffness and feel. I have no idea why my smaller Midi nib is so much bouncier. The material is the same.

Edited by TheDutchGuy, 23 December 2018 - 07:35.


#10 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 07:40

The Midi HS's are captured converters which is no big deal. They just aren't vac fillers.


Indeed, no big deal once someone tells you :-). I couldn't even find the Midi on their website...
 

I love the shape of the sections and feel of both sizes of those pens.


Absolutely! Amazing pen to hold in the hand.

#11 Honeybadgers

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 10:05

I genuinely can't tell a difference in softness or line variation between the midi or maxi dreamtouch nibs.


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#12 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 08:21

Udate. After two days of enjoying the pen and comparing it to my other pens, two points are becoming apparent.

First, the F nib of my Midi writes a typical Western F line but it doesn't *feel* like an F. It feels "substantial" on paper, in the sense that it feels as if there is a much larger contact area than there actually is. In terms of feel, it reminds me somewhat of M or even B nibs. Having said that, the feedback is exquisite and the Midi is one of the very few pens that allow me to write neatly, pleasantly _and_ swiftly all at once. Most other pens offer me two out of three.

Second, the pen is slowly becoming a bit wetter (not that it was dry to begin with), which is something that I almost always see happening with new pens. There's a break-in period. I switched to Iroshizuku Shin-Kai and that seems to be a heavenly ink for this pen.

#13 Says

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 12:24

Agree, it tends to get a bit wetter. I am using Asa-gao, and you can feel the pen just flowing along..

 

I get what you mean on "substantial". Makes me either want to get it ground to something more fine (Worried that would affect how well it flows now), or go all the way to broad. Has anyone tried the broad?



#14 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 15:10

Has anyone tried the broad?


Many seem to choose the broad or the stub. Personally I like stubs, but not broads.

Edited by TheDutchGuy, 26 December 2018 - 15:10.


#15 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 15:29

An endearing trait of this pen: in itself the nib is _not_ ground to provide any line variation, i.e. it is not stubbish or architect-ish. But the nib is so bouncy that that minimal pressure differences one exerts when writing still lead to subtle line variations. It may be subtle, but it makes a page of text look way more interesting. Awesome.

#16 Says

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 17:07

Many seem to choose the broad or the stub. Personally I like stubs, but not broads.


Is there a stub for homo sapien?? If there is, i will order one now

#17 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 26 December 2018 - 18:17

Is there a stub for homo sapien?? If there is, i will order one now


Yes, 1.3 mm stub. You can get it from Goulet, for example.

#18 syntax

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 22:18

Hello! Thanks for the review. If I may hijack your thread for a moment, I recently acquired a Dark Age midi w/EF nib. I am having a hard time filling the pen, which is pre-owned. I love so much the shape, feel, texture, weight of the pen. I love the nib. I've been using it with Iro Yama-Budo and it feels like perfection. There's just one problem. I seem not to be able to fully fill the pen. I get a few paragraphs at most. I first tried with a Sailor ink, and then I went to a full sample of the Yama-Budo. There's no leaking. It just doesn't seem to suck up any ink. Is there a trick? I'm doing exactly what the videos showing the midi filling system show. Has anyone else had this issue, and if so, how did you resolve it?


Edited by syntax, 27 December 2018 - 23:04.


#19 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 07:45

Two possibilities: either there is a mechanical issue or an ink flow issue. Let's tackle ink flow first. Once the pen stops writing, if you then unscrew the blind cap, is there ink dripping out of the feed? If yes, then there's an ink flow issue, because there's ink in the pen that doesn't come out when you write but it _does_ come out when you unscrew the blind cap and move the piston. In this case I'd thoroughly flush the pen with a hand-warm, mild detergent solution or a brief (!) ultrasonic treatment. Perhaps the previous owner used a shimmering ink and who knows how much gunk there might be in the pen... If that doesn't help, then I've been told you can unscrew the nib and feed from the section. This would be a next step, because you can inspect those parts for any problems and you can also shine light into the barrel to inspect the plunger. If that also doesn't solve it, then it could be a mechanical issue. Given that your pen is a used pen without warranty, I'd send it in to a reputable repair person near you (there are several on this forum) or to Visconti in Italy.

#20 syntax

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 00:01

Two possibilities: either there is a mechanical issue or an ink flow issue. Let's tackle ink flow first. Once the pen stops writing, if you then unscrew the blind cap, is there ink dripping out of the feed? If yes, then there's an ink flow issue, because there's ink in the pen that doesn't come out when you write but it _does_ come out when you unscrew the blind cap and move the piston. In this case I'd thoroughly flush the pen with a hand-warm, mild detergent solution or a brief (!) ultrasonic treatment. Perhaps the previous owner used a shimmering ink and who knows how much gunk there might be in the pen... If that doesn't help, then I've been told you can unscrew the nib and feed from the section. This would be a next step, because you can inspect those parts for any problems and you can also shine light into the barrel to inspect the plunger. If that also doesn't solve it, then it could be a mechanical issue. Given that your pen is a used pen without warranty, I'd send it in to a reputable repair person near you (there are several on this forum) or to Visconti in Italy.

Thanks so much for this. I filled the pen from a full bottle last night. I wrote about two pages, one last night & one this afternoon. I thought maybe the issue was resolved, but then partway through the second page, the pen pretended to be out of ink. I kind of scribbled around a bit and it started writing again. Then a sentence later, the same thing happened, but then scribbling around did not yield more ink. I tried what you said and loosened the blind cap, and a couple large blobs of ink fell out though the pen had seemed entirely empty. Initially I thought the issue was the pen not filling, but now I'm guessing it's a mechanical issue. I purchased the pen from nibs.com and had written to them. John left me a voice mail yesterday. Should I try flushing and see whether it works, or just wait until I talk to him? So frustrated. It writes beautifully, feels wonderful, is a perfect size, love the balance, etc, otherwise.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: visconti, homo sapiens, lava steel, midi



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