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Japanese Pen Nib Widths Comparison Reference Table

platinum pilot nib width comparison sailor

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13 replies to this topic

#1 Intensity

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 19:43

On my recent trip to Japan I was able to play with fountain pen tester displays by Platinum and Pilot with pre-filled pens and supplied paper.  Upon returning, I had been meaning to make a comparison with some Western nibs and generic writing implements.  Unfortunately I only have a Sailor EF nib at the moment, but will soon get a Sailor 14K music nib to add to the comparison. These were scanned at 600DPI for more detail, so the images are pretty large if you zoom in on them.

 

Not sure if this post should go here or to Regional Focus -> Japan - Asia.

 

First, the spliced comparison table (courtesy of Photoshop) using scanned sheets:

 

haXFMjb.jpg

 

 

And these are the individual sheets, scanned at identical size setting, from which this comparison was made:

 

2oayn39.jpg

 

KHvy5q5.jpg

7iGtwug.jpg


Edited by Intensity, 09 August 2019 - 21:48.

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#2 5Cavaliers

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 19:52

This is very helpful.  Thank you for your hard work on this!  


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#3 Intensity

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 21:49

Personal opinion on the "Soft" nibs:

 

As far as how the "soft" nibs feel for writing -- they are somewhat mushy and I would describe them not as springy but rather as "bendy".  They require a very light hand to write at their finest.  The ink flow is higher than from their non-soft counterparts, and the feeling is less that of a flexible vintage nib or something like FPR Ultraflex and more like how I imagine titanium nibs the way people describe them as paintbrushes.  Trying the soft nibs in person made me realize that I don't like them when compared to the regular/hard counterparts.  If one is looking for a flex nib, these are not it.  It's not easy to do controlled variable nib writing with these due to poor snap-back, and the line variation is not great anyway.  These soft nibs are not meant to be flexed significantly if at all.  You can see I tried and failed to do a terrible version of flex writing with the soft nibs and gave up after a word or two.


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#4 Mr.Rene

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 22:46

What about FM (Fine Medium) nibs size-tip ??

 

Are they springy or flex nibs in some way? I am curious because I just have seen this designation in japanese nib only

 

Regards  :thumbup:


Edited by Mr.Rene, 09 August 2019 - 22:48.


#5 Intensity

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 23:40

No, it’s fairly rigid. The SFM is soft but as I described above.

“I admit it, I'm surprised that fountain pens are a hobby. ... it's a bit like stumbling into a fork convention - when you've used a fork all your life.” 


#6 Honeybadgers

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 23:51

Personal opinion on the "Soft" nibs:

 

As far as how the "soft" nibs feel for writing -- they are somewhat mushy and I would describe them not as springy but rather as "bendy".  They require a very light hand to write at their finest.  The ink flow is higher than from their non-soft counterparts, and the feeling is less that of a flexible vintage nib or something like FPR Ultraflex and more like how I imagine titanium nibs the way people describe them as paintbrushes.  Trying the soft nibs in person made me realize that I don't like them when compared to the regular/hard counterparts.  If one is looking for a flex nib, these are not it.  It's not easy to do controlled variable nib writing with these due to poor snap-back, and the line variation is not great anyway.  These soft nibs are not meant to be flexed significantly if at all.  You can see I tried and failed to do a terrible version of flex writing with the soft nibs and gave up after a word or two.

 

 

Personal preferences aside, I disagree, the snapback on the soft nibs is quite comparable to a semiflex vintage nib. Flex nib require quite a lot of practice to learn how to use properly, they're not supposed to be fingertip mashed down, rather your entire hand should supply the pressure. This is why it feels hard to control, it's a firmer sort of flex intended to follow along with the angles and loops of copperplate and spencerian. If you just do roundhand or vertical cursive, I could totally see why it wouldn't work well and the FPR ultraflex is the king.

 

They're not really intended to be flex nibs either, but the pilot SF at least can easily lay down some impressive shades.

 

A Ti nib is closer to an 18k nib, and the FPR ultraflex has the worst snapback of anything currently on the market (though it does flex well)

 

All that said, if you don't like them, you're not wrong. You can't be, it's completely subjective!


Edited by Honeybadgers, 09 August 2019 - 23:57.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)


#7 Intensity

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 00:10

Ive had a bunch of vintage pens with flexible gold nibs. The pens I had tried at the displays were not like them. They had pretty bad snap back and just ended up writing a wide line if not very careful. The FPR Ultraflex nibs compare positively to vintage flexible nibs, and theres variation in vintage nibs as well in terms of flexibility and other performance characteristics. This is my personal experience and opinion, as I had stated (carefully separating it from the first post).

Edited by Intensity, 10 August 2019 - 00:11.

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#8 Honeybadgers

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 06:11

Ive had a bunch of vintage pens with flexible gold nibs. The pens I had tried at the displays were not like them. They had pretty bad snap back and just ended up writing a wide line if not very careful. The FPR Ultraflex nibs compare positively to vintage flexible nibs, and theres variation in vintage nibs as well in terms of flexibility and other performance characteristics. This is my personal experience and opinion, as I had stated (carefully separating it from the first post).

 

 

I wonder if they'd just been mushed so hard that they'd been sprung several times and just straightened at the store.

 

A sprung nib ain't gonna flex like it should. Because every single soft pilot nib I have (FA, 2x #5 SF, the #5 MS is crazy soft, and the justus 95) all have wonderful snapback. Honestly, the only thing that keeps them from being true semiflex nibs is the feeds inability to keep up.

 

The FPR ultraflex is just mush. absolute mush. The tines utterly fall apart, but you can't modulate the shades with the pressure of your wrist, only the pressure of your fingertips. That does not work well when you're doing big looped shades and flourishes.

 

I wonder if you're a fingertip flexer? Because a good pilot SF nib's flex capabilities are only limited by the actual tine spread (which is honestly good enough for ~15mm tall letters unless you're doing copperplate) and the feed flow, if you're using your whole hand to initiate the shades on downstrokes. And that's dead nuts in the "vintage 14k semiflex" territory. I'd wager most people would have a hard time telling a difference between my pelikan 140 EF semiflex and my custom 74 SF if they were blindfolded.


Edited by Honeybadgers, 10 August 2019 - 06:12.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)


#9 Tas

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 07:39

How thoughtful of you!
Im sure this will help many here.

(Cant help but wonder if you bought something in the shop and what it might have been 🤔)

#10 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 12:40

Quite a good discussion on 'soft' Japanese nibs.

A few years ago, I had heard they were 'mushy' but later folks claimed otherwise.

 

(I am and will remain ignorant of Japanese pens and nibs, only once having a nail Sheaffer made in Japan. I live in Germany and got fed a diet of affordable of used semi-flex and regular flex pens; & a nail or three.)

 

I am obviously wrong to think the 'soft' nibs are only 'regular flex' like a Pelikan 200, when they are being compared to semi-flex....and folks worry about snap back.

Something that regular flex don't have in if it's so mashed; you can not write that way.


German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

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#11 Intensity

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 15:42

How thoughtful of you!
Im sure this will help many here.

(Cant help but wonder if you bought something in the shop and what it might have been )

 

It was really tempting.  But instead I loaded up on inks and paper at that shop and some cute mechanical pencils -- no pens. I was holding out for a Sailor special edition pen, but never saw one I liked.  Would have gotten one at Kingdom Note, but they were out of stock of the color I wanted.  Out of that sample writing, I most definitely want a Platinum UEF at some point and wish the Nice Lilas or Lavande series offered UEF.  I'll also get a Pilot Vanishing Point matte in EF some day and a Pilot with MS nib (also wishing the new LE Custom 74 could be had in demonstrator teal, merlot, or smoke gray with music nib--only the black version is available with that nib).


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#12 Intensity

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Posted 10 August 2019 - 15:44

 

 

I wonder if they'd just been mushed so hard that they'd been sprung several times and just straightened at the store.

 

A sprung nib ain't gonna flex like it should. Because every single soft pilot nib I have (FA, 2x #5 SF, the #5 MS is crazy soft, and the justus 95) all have wonderful snapback. Honestly, the only thing that keeps them from being true semiflex nibs is the feeds inability to keep up.

 

The FPR ultraflex is just mush. absolute mush. The tines utterly fall apart, but you can't modulate the shades with the pressure of your wrist, only the pressure of your fingertips. That does not work well when you're doing big looped shades and flourishes.

 

I wonder if you're a fingertip flexer? Because a good pilot SF nib's flex capabilities are only limited by the actual tine spread (which is honestly good enough for ~15mm tall letters unless you're doing copperplate) and the feed flow, if you're using your whole hand to initiate the shades on downstrokes. And that's dead nuts in the "vintage 14k semiflex" territory. I'd wager most people would have a hard time telling a difference between my pelikan 140 EF semiflex and my custom 74 SF if they were blindfolded.

 

I concede that we have very different experience of both of those nib types.  


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#13 quattro98

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Posted 28 August 2019 - 03:01

Thanks for posting these charts. They are very helpful. I've seen nib sample sets locally from Sailor, Platinum, & Montblanc, but haven't tried them all.



#14 pictogramax

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 21:17

Great thread and examples, thank you for posting it! It inspired me to compare my Japanese soft nibs and here are the results, if they might be interesting or useful to someone else:

 

I’ve been researching Japanese nib widths in order to determine which nib size to get eventually from Sailor. Actually I’m trying to get the idea how Sailors nibs on Promenade and Pro Gear Slim might compare to Pilot CH91 and CH912, as well as Platinum 3776 SoftFine (which are the pens I own and use a lot).

Judging by the samples in several threads over at FountainPenNetwork, I feel that Sailor nibs are closer to Pilot than Platinum in width (Platinum seems to be a bit finer in both F and M), but comments seem to suggest that in feel and feedback they are closer to Platinum than Pilot

So it inspired me to make a comparative writing samples of several Japanese nibs I own, the gold ones in this case, all Pilot except Platinum 3776.

PICTOGRAMAX-2019-SOFT-NIBS-WRITING-COMPA

Platinum SoftFine nib is very fine without pressure, even might be considered EF; I personally don’t need a finer point than this. It can give some line variation, not a ton, as it is not a true flex nib and there is no need to force it to do what it was not conceived to be. But it is beautifully SPRINGY in use, especially for SKETCHING – no wonder it’s one of my go-to sketch pens.

Pilot Soft Fine nib is slightly less fine than Platinum’s (or one might say that it is a true F while Platinum borders on EF). It is also somewhat smoother than Platinum and GLIDES across paper with less feedback (and less audible writing trail) than Platinum.

Platinum SoftFineMedium is bigger jump in size than I expected and is much closer to SoftMedium than being right in the middle of F and M. If I had known it, I probably wouldn’t have gotten one, as I feel that SoftMedium (or combination of SF and SM) is better option than having SFM. On the other hand, that nib is CH912 body which is my favorite, as opposed to SF and SM which are in CH91. So I kept it

Pilot SoftMedium nib is nice, visibly wider than SF. To me this SM nib is more interesting than SFM as it is somewhat more expressive; with a light touch it can give a finer line than SFM, and then spread a bit more than it. Once again, none of these nibs are really flexible and should not be pushed to extremes.

All the writing samples, except for the first sample of Pilot SM, were written in the same Fabriano notebook and with Rohrer&Klingner Dokumentus Brown ink. The first sample of Pilot SM was written with Platinum Carbon Black ink, which for several years was my waterproof sketching ink of choice. I replaced it with R&K Dokumentus Brown, as it is not completely black but rather a dark sepia which goes nice with watercolors. It is also less “gummy” and flows better than PCB. I also feel that it is less harsh on the pen, not as sticky, but there is nothing scientific in this claim, just a feeling obtained while using, refilling and cleaning the pens.

Anyway, as it was already nearly empty, I washed the Pilot SM and filled it with R&K Dokumentus Brown also. But as I started writing almost immediately after refilling, the ink was still a bit diluted, so lighter than it usually is, and spread a bit more on paper giving a wider line.

The last sample is from Pilot FA, also filled with R&K Dokumentus Brown, but with a custom ebonite 3 slits feed installed (in order to improve and regulate the flow; see that adventure HERE). Even though it is advertised as F nib that is flexible, I always felt it to be M and not really suitable for delicate work. Especially now, as it is fairly wet because of that custom ebonite feed, I find it appropriate and useful for bigger formats.

PICTOGRAMAX-2019-SOFT-NIBS-WRITING-COMPA

I mostly use my pens for drawing, but I thought that writing samples could be more useful for comparison. If I had to pick just one of these pens for writing, it would be Pilot SF, as it is smooth in action, but still has some feedback, the flow is just right and it’s line width is crisp for the size of letters I tend to write.

Platinum SF is a bit too fine and too sharp for fast writing, but shines while sketching. Pilot SFM and SM give practically the same result while writing, but are a bit too wide for my lettering; for writing I tend to pick SFM because I like the body of CH912 better, and for drawing, as I said, I find SM slightly more expressive.

Pilot FA (with custom ebonite feed) for me is too wet and too wide to write with, and even for drawing it demands a bigger format and broader and looser strokes.

The samples were taken from The Orientalist by Tom Reiss. In the end, this didn’t solve the dilemma should I get Sailor F or M nib, but it was fun

 

That's it :-) If needed, here is the direct link to blog post: https://pictogramax....ing-comparison/

 


Edited by pictogramax, 29 December 2019 - 21:18.






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