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Pilot Justus 95 (M)


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#1 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 06 July 2019 - 19:29

fpn_1562438158__img_20190706_203411_resi

 

Earlier reviews and comparisons on FPN

The Pilot Justus 95 has been extensively reviewed here before, see for example this review or this review. Also, the Justus 95 has been subjected to a comparative test with the Custom 823.

 

The softness control

The unique selling point of this pen is, of course, its "nib softness control" which works by controlling the movement of the tines and thereby the stiffness of the nib. As has been emphasized by many others, the Justus 95 is not a real flex- or semi-flex pen. Instead, for normal everyday writing, it is a pen that offers both a bouncy and a stiffer writing experience. With M nib, the soft, bouncy setting writes a somewhat wider line (verging on Western M) whereas the stiff, rigid setting writes a narrower line (verging on Western F). My personal feeling is that this difference in line width is caused by controlling the flow of the pen, not by the tines moving apart. Neither setting offers line variation when writing in a relaxed way, i.e. with minimal pressure. 'True' line width variation due to the tines moving apart only happens when you press down pretty hard; even then, the pen is no match for a true flex- or semi-flex pen.

 

Still, the softness control is quite intriguing and my hand tells me that it really works. The soft setting is definitely bouncy and feathery. The hard setting is much more rigid, but still noticeably softer than pens with 'nails', such as Sailor (I'm not putting down 'nails', I adore Sailor!). Also in the hard setting, some line variation is possible if you press down.

 

Here are some writing samples, but note that the effect of the softness control is very hard to photograph. My eyes see it clearly on the page, but not so much on a photo of the page.

 

fpn_1562439385__img_20190706_195743_resi

^---The H(ard) setting of the Justus is at the top, the S(oft) setting is 3rd from below. The difference in line width is significant!

 

Feedback

Seen through a hand lens, the nib appears to have a perfectly rounded tip which promises a smooth writing sensation. Guess what? It's got lots of feedback. Not tooth, not scratch, but feedback. The nature of this feedback is much less subtle than the feedback of a good Sailor nib. Out of the box, it feels quite rough and unsophisticated in comparison. A quick examination learned that the larger the writing angle, the smoother the pen writes. The feedback is generated by the lower end of the tip. Easily solved, but might be a put-off for some.

 

The fact that the nib is not butter-on-hot-glass-smooth is a plus for me, because it allows me excellent control over my writing (which can be too fast, too angular and too jagged).

 

Flow/wetness

Out of the box, wetness is sufficient but the flow is a little bit irregular, i.e. some strokes are thinnish and dry-ish and others can be wet to the threshold of feathering. I've had MB Lavender Purple and Iroshizuku Shin-kai in the pen, with similar results. After about an hour of writing, the flow evened out. I have a feeling that it will become just right within a week or so.

 

Converter

Another intriguing feature: a converter with an intricate push-mechanism that I had not yet seen before. The physics of it are not yet clear to me, but it sure works well. Addictive, too - it feels nice to press and release that button and to see the ink flow in. Ink volume is sufficient.

 

Why did I buy?

The main reason for buying this pen is because it adds something unique to my little collection, its distinguishing features being the softness control and the converter mechanism. Both strike me as ingenious, well-engineered, functional and fun. The rest of the pen is of high quality and should last a lifetime.

 

The price is steep. Perhaps too steep. The same price buys a wonderful Sailor 1911 'Simply Black', which is a truly superb writer (yes, I tried) and for just a little bit more one can buy a Pelikan M400. If it's worth the price is something that you can only decide for yourself.

 

Conclusion

+ quality of build and materials

+ weight, dimensions, comfort

+ attention to detail

+ 'softness control' really works - but it changes the feel of the pen from rigid to soft - it's not flex!

+ 'softness control' also seems to influence wetness, which changes line width from narrow (western F) to wide (western M)

+ ingenious converter mechanism

+ degree of control over handwriting

/ feedbacky nib, especially with small writing angle (60 degrees or less)

/ line variation due to tines moving apart only possible with significant pressure and perhaps not without risk

/ irregular flow out of the box, could be a break-in period thing

 



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#2 SenZen

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Posted 07 July 2019 - 23:39

Thank you, very interesting. I wonder if the harder setting would produce a lighter colour than the soft setting (less flow vs more flow), for the same ink, I've gone to specific pens for Asa Gao and Kon Peki to achieve that.


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#3 PAKMAN

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 01:02

The original price is the only thing I don't love about my Justus 95. Thanks for your review!


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#4 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 05:42



I wonder if the harder setting would produce a lighter colour than the soft setting (less flow vs more flow), for the same ink...

 

 

Yes, there is a difference. But... it depends. The flow of this pen depends on writing pressure like nothing else I've ever used. It's hypersensitive to writing pressure and can go from barely writing to a gusher with a gentle increase in pressure. The colour of the ink depends much more on writing pressure than on the hard- or soft setting of the nib. This 'feature' of the pen is something that I've quickly grown to appreciate! But to answer your question: if someone writes with a consistent, gentle downward pressure, then you will find that the pen is drier on the hard setting, writes a thinner line and the ink will be less saturated. It's subtle, but it's there.



#5 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 05:49

Some further pros and cons, based on several hours of quality time spent writing with this pen and comparing it to others:

 

+ It really is featherlight. Switching to the Justus from another modern pen, without exception my hand tells me: this thing weighs nothing!

+ Even on the hard setting, the pen feels bouncy (especially after switching to the pen from a hard-nibbed pen).

+ Hypersensitive to writing pressure; goes from barely writing to very wet with a gentle increase in pressure.

 

/ While a quality pen, the materials used for the cap, section and barrel are nowhere close to what a brand like Leonardo uses. I'm mostly referring to feel here; it feels plasticky, probably because that's what it is. A Leonardo, which costs over 100 euros less, feels like a NOS vintage pen.

 

/ Not a pen for fast swirls or signatures.

 

fpn_1562599087__img_20190708_171623_resi

 

^--- A writing sample with Waterman Mysterious Blue. Some of my vintage pens (Onoto, Sheaffer) show the same kind of behaviour. It might be the way I write, with quite sudden accelerations and decelerations, but there's a _lot_ of ink at the bottom of some letters (indicated by orange stripe).


Edited by TheDutchGuy, 08 July 2019 - 15:21.


#6 SenZen

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 18:12

 

 

Yes, there is a difference. But... it depends. The flow of this pen depends on writing pressure like nothing else I've ever used. It's hypersensitive to writing pressure and can go from barely writing to a gusher with a gentle increase in pressure. The colour of the ink depends much more on writing pressure than on the hard- or soft setting of the nib. This 'feature' of the pen is something that I've quickly grown to appreciate! But to answer your question: if someone writes with a consistent, gentle downward pressure, then you will find that the pen is drier on the hard setting, writes a thinner line and the ink will be less saturated. It's subtle, but it's there.

 

Thank you!


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#7 SenZen

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 18:16

The original price is the only thing I don't love about my Justus 95. Thanks for your review!

 

Same here, sounds interesting but the price is too high to experiment.


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#8 Honeybadgers

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 02:26

a pilot nib should never have more feedback than a similar size sailor. it should always have less.

 

Pilot feedback should never be toothy, it should always "drag" on the page, just letting you know that you're writing on paper. 

 

I think you may have got a dud nib.

 

I have the F 95, paid $120 for it used, and LOVE it. even at MSRP, I think i'd still recommend it. I use the pressure bar all the time, switching from firm when writing mathematical formulas and calculations to soft for general writing.


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#9 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 05:59

a pilot nib should never have more feedback than a similar size sailor. it should always have less. Pilot feedback should never be toothy, it should always "drag" on the page, just letting you know that you're writing on paper. I think you may have got a dud nib.

Perhaps, perhaps not. To me, it feels like I finally hit the Pilot jackpot. Truth be told, Im not happy about how most Pilots feel. The drag that you refer to always puts me off. I gave away my Metro, because of that. Ive tried a lot of Capless pens, looking for one that felt right to me, and never found one, because of that. I owned a C823 F which didnt drag, but I hated how it felt on paper and sold it. So I guess that whatever a typical Pilot nib is supposed to be, might not be for me. However I did immediately like my Justus. The cause of the feedback is quite obvious (the ridges of the inner tines are just a tad sharp) and can easily be tuned, should I choose to do so. Normally Id do that myself, but in order not to void my warranty, Ill take the pen back to the store where I bought it so that their in-house nibmeister can do it for me. Its a 5 minute job.

I use the pressure bar all the time, switching from firm when writing mathematical formulas and calculations to soft for general writing.

I can totally relate to that! Daily diary or extensive notes = soft. Work notes, small scribbling, annotations or poor quality paper = hard. The line width of the hard setting is definitely less, so is the wetness. Its a very practical feature!

Edited by TheDutchGuy, 10 July 2019 - 17:14.


#10 Honeybadgers

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 01:52

I meant dud in that it doesn't conform to pilot's standards for polishing.

 

If you like it, then who are we to argue?! I personally hate buttery smooth glassy nibs, whether or not they were "done correctly"


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#11 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 04:59

I personally hate buttery smooth glassy nibs...


So do I. I prefer slight feedback, of the Sailor kind. Just a bit of texture.

#12 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 10:30

Curiously, my Justus is very wet with Pelikan 4001 Blue Black (one of the driest inks I know) yet is a bit dry-ish with Robert Oster Fire & Ice and Waterman Mysterious Blue. #therearenorules

#13 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 16:47

A negative to report: the Con70 converter traps the ink, any ink, after a certain amount of writing so the pen peters out. Surface tension issues. A gentle push on the button solves it, but it’s a nuisance.

This issue notwithstanding: putting Sailor kiwaguro in this pen opens up a whole new galaxy. In the hard setting, with minimal downward pressure (just the weight of the pen), line width is on the XF-side-of-EF. With a touch of downward pressure, it becomes a nice EF with occasional excursions into M-side-of-F territory. In the soft setting, everything becomes a size bolder and wetter. The exquisite texture of kiwaguro is the icing on the cake.

#14 BaronWulfraed

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 18:00

Have you tried flushing the converter with Dawn (or equivalent for your locale).



#15 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 19:39

Yes, but I’ll do it again.

#16 Honeybadgers

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 00:39

A negative to report: the Con70 converter traps the ink, any ink, after a certain amount of writing so the pen peters out. Surface tension issues. A gentle push on the button solves it, but it’s a nuisance.

This issue notwithstanding: putting Sailor kiwaguro in this pen opens up a whole new galaxy. In the hard setting, with minimal downward pressure (just the weight of the pen), line width is on the XF-side-of-EF. With a touch of downward pressure, it becomes a nice EF with occasional excursions into M-side-of-F territory. In the soft setting, everything becomes a size bolder and wetter. The exquisite texture of kiwaguro is the icing on the cake.

You should be able to break that tension with a little flick. I am a pen fiddler, so I never run into the issue, but you can resolve it with a CON40 or CON50, which has an agitator. 

 

Also, some of the older CON70's seem to have their agitator on there a little tighter so it isn't moving around as much, but newer ones do not have that issue. Maybe just get a new CON70?


Edited by Honeybadgers, 17 July 2019 - 00:40.

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#17 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 17 July 2019 - 09:33

I'l try to agitate the agitator a little bit more ;-) . To be honest this is an issue that I see in lots of new pens. One of the reasons I admire Sailor so much is that issues like this never seem to occur. But my Leonardos also never suffered from this, their converters are really good.



#18 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 08:04

fpn_1563607128__415416a9-00d2-48c0-9be9-

Two-week update. Ive spent enough time with the Justus to decide that its a keeper, so I went to work on the nib. As mentioned before, the edges of the inner tines were totally unsmoothed, rough, and 90-degree angular. The result was intense, rough feedback and paper snagging. But it also gave me a platform to tune the nib to my liking. The inner tines were so rough that they even scratched the micromesh and removed its abrasive layer... It took time, with several sessions over several days and constant comparison to other pens, but it turned out wonderful. With modern (non-cursive) writing, there is just a hint of feedback, some nice tactile respons. With cursive italic, the feedback increases somewhat to offer more control.

The result is a modern yet bouncy nib that brings out the best in my (relatively poor) writing technique. That alone is worth the price of admission. But theres more.

In the picture you can see the huge range of line widths and wetness that can be achieved with this pen. With a generously wet ink like Diamine Misty Blue, it goes from XF/EF territory all the way to a big, fat M (note comparison to vintage 50s Parker 51 M).

With the right ink, the colour differences that can be obtained with this pen are insane: from very light and verging on pale, to intense and saturated. The Justus is unbelievably sensitive to even the slightest variations in writing pressure, Ive never seen anything quite like it. Its extremely expressive. Flex has nothing to do with it, its not from pushing the tines far apart, its not even from pushing the tines noticeably apart. The softness control also affects the flow but even in the H setting the flow increases significantly with even the slightest pressure increase. Personally I love this, but others might not like it.

A word about the feel of the nib. Pilot nibs have never been my favourite nibs in terms of how they feel on paper. Because I smoothed this nib myself, its as close as it can be to what I personally like to feel. Does the physical sensation equal that of my favourite nibs (such as Leonardo, Sailor, Visconti Dreamtouch)? No. It doesnt. But none of my other modern pens offer me what the Justus offers in terms of line width, wetness, expressiveness, bounciness...

All things considered: an extremely expressive and versatile pen, the first Pilot that provides me with good writing control, a sense of emotion/temperament and a trustworthy, high-performing pen for intense daily use.

#19 PAKMAN

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 14:42

Thanks for the update. Still loving my Justus!


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#20 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 18:32

Update. I’ve continued to gradually and carefully tune the nib, a process which took several weeks (because I can’t change the nib if I ruin this one). I’m glad to report that the potential I saw in this pen has been completely realized, and then some.

fpn_1565029702__1ad5603f-2f08-443a-a644-

Under its own weight, with no pressure applied, the pen writes a line so fine that it’s barely visible with the ink I use (it would be very visible with a darker ink, just extremely thin). With a hair of pressure, it becomes a lot wetter and writes an XF line. Normal writing with a light touch and the softness control in the HARD setting gives a line width similar to my Leonardo Furore EF. With a somewhat heavier touch, it becomes a western F. With the softness control in the SOFT setting, the pen becomes a lot wetter and line width can increase to big, fat western M. Totally amazing stuff. It blows my mind how the flow of this pen responds drastically to even the tiniest increases in writing pressure. It’s just so expressive... In the image, I’ve added comparisons with a Leonardo Furore EF, a Sailor H-MF and a ‘40s De La Rue with accountant’s nib (that’s a real needle).

The nib has become extremely smooth with a hint of feedback. Despite the smoothness, for some reason the pen offers more control over my writing than most of my other pens (that control doesn’t really show in the image, sorry - I have a long way to go in terms of penmanship...)

Long story short, I’ve pitted this pen against every other pen I own and it comes out on top. I can still very much appreciate my other pens (which include some darn fine specimens), but, well... wow.






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