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Graf Von Faber-Castell Carbon Black Ink Review


Mafia Geek
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Here's some photos of my review of Graf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black. This is a REALLY good black ink, arguably the best black I've used to date. This will become by default, no nonsense, black ink. It's a little more pricey for a bottle than some inks, but the bottles are 75ml so larger than most ink bottles. I would HIGHLY recommend this ink to anyone looking for a good default black.




This is a writing sample in a TWSBI notebook, which has fairly good paper for bleedthrough/showthrough, but it does tend to spread a little more than Rhodia.



fpn_1399791924__graf_von_faber_castel_ca



Here's a writing sample in a Moleskine Cahier to show how it performs on lower quality paper:



fpn_1399792107__graf_von_faber_castel_ca



And the reverse:



fpn_1399792137__graf_von_faber_castel_ca



And finally the water resistance test on Rhodia pad. This was soaked in water for several seconds.



fpn_1399792160__graf_von_faber_castel_ca


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Good review and thanks for posting. Other than Herbin what blacks are you comparing this ink to ?

A wise man once said    " the best revenge is wealth "   but a wiser man answered back    " the best revenge is happiness "

 

The true definition of madness - Doing the same thing everyday and expecting different results......

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Good review and thanks for posting. Other than Herbin what blacks are you comparing this ink to ?

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

I've gone through quite the gambit of black inks. I've tried most Noodler's (black, x-feather, bad black, etc.), Pilot Black, Sailor Nano Black, Pelikan Fount India, Diamine Onyx, Lamy Black, Platinum Mix-Free, Iroshizuku, Rohrer & Klinger, and a few others.

 

This one won out over Perle Noir only because it does better on lower quality paper than Perle Noir. The one thing that Perle Noir has over this ink (and almost EVERY OTHER black ink) is that it doesn't smear with a highlighter.

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Nice review. Thank you! I like it too and use it a lot. Its properties are IMO very good and fit in with those of all of the other 5 new GcFC inks. Especially the bottles and boxes are truly great.

Getting back to the price... that isn't really all that expensive per ml. Looking at our prices here in Euros, including our 19% sales tax, it's like this...

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------

Ink List Price Bottle Price/ml

-----------------------------------------------------

New Caran d'Ache 29.50 50 ml 0.59

Iroshizuku 24.90 50 ml 0.50

Old Caran d'Ache 13.95 30 ml 0.47

Graf von F-Cl (new) 25.00 75 ml 0.33

Pelikan Edelstein 14.50 50 ml 0.29

Herbin 8.65 30 ml 0.29

Akkerman (60 ml) 15.00 60 ml 0.25

Montblanc (regulars) 13.00 60 ml 0.22

Waterman 7.50 50 ml 0.15

Pelikan 4001 4.15 30 ml 0.14

Parker Quink 6.00 57 ml 0.11

Akkerman (150 ml) 16.50 150 ml 0.11

-----------------------------------------------------

 

Mike

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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I was a little curious which blacks you're comparing to when you say 'best black', since something like Noodler's Black wouldn't have a problem with water at all, let alone a highlighter swipe. And 30 seconds seems to be a little long for drying for a typical notebook (I'd expect that more on vellum paper like rhodia), Pilot black for example seems to dry much faster than that, while having similar water resistance as shown by FC's black.

 

PS: What would a 5 minute soak look like? (I thought that was a 5 minute til I seen 'several seconds' which doesn't seem that great to me, but not completely 'washable')

Edited by KBeezie
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I was a little curious which blacks you're comparing to when you say 'best black', since something like Noodler's Black wouldn't have a problem with water at all, let alone a highlighter swipe. And 30 seconds seems to be a little long for drying for a typical notebook (I'd expect that more on vellum paper like rhodia), Pilot black for example seems to dry much faster than that, while having similar water resistance as shown by FC's black.

 

PS: What would a 5 minute soak look like? (I thought that was a 5 minute til I seen 'several seconds' which doesn't seem that great to me, but not completely 'washable')

I found that Noodlers black never quite dried for me (see my review posted on here). For the water resistance I left it in the water until no more ink lifted, it was close to a full minute fully immersed in water. Some ink does lift, but by no means is it much. I personally did not like, nor was I impressed with, the performance of Noodlers black, so I kept looking. Your millage may be different, as might your requirements/expectations, but this ink meets mine whereas Noodlers black didn't.

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I found that Noodlers black never quite dried for me (see my review posted on here). For the water resistance I left it in the water until no more ink lifted, it was close to a full minute fully immersed in water. Some ink does lift, but by no means is it much. I personally did not like, nor was I impressed with, the performance of Noodlers black, so I kept looking. Your millage may be different, as might your requirements/expectations, but this ink meets mine whereas Noodlers black didn't.

 

Ahh I see, when you said several seconds was not sure if you meant like 7-10 seconds, or close to 60 ( a minute as you just said ). And by no means trying to diss your preference was curious if for example you were comparing to say noodler's which you said you did. Which also means if you used black eel like I do, then you'd probably have an even more unsatisfactory result since the lubricated version would take longer to dry (but once dry, it's on there).

 

The other factor I noticed after the fact is that you are using a medium and 1.1 stub, I tend to use Western Fine or smaller.

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Thanks for the review, That fox is jumping since 2011 hahaha.

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Ahh I see, when you said several seconds was not sure if you meant like 7-10 seconds, or close to 60 ( a minute as you just said ). And by no means trying to diss your preference was curious if for example you were comparing to say noodler's which you said you did. Which also means if you used black eel like I do, then you'd probably have an even more unsatisfactory result since the lubricated version would take longer to dry (but once dry, it's on there).

 

The other factor I noticed after the fact is that you are using a medium and 1.1 stub, I tend to use Western Fine or smaller.

 

 

I found with the batches of Noodlers black's (any type) smeared quite a lot even with steel pilot fines. I did an experiment of diluting it to see if that was the problem, no luck, so I gave up on it and found Perle Noir.

 

Thanks for the review, That fox is jumping since 2011 hahaha.

Hehe, I think it started jumping well before 2011.

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  • 10 months later...

Maybe the water resistance depends on what paper you are testing on, because in terms of water resistance, the FC Carbon Black ranked dead last on my test of 15 black inks. Just the lightest touch with a brush with water on a sample that had been sitting for weeks immediately made a dark black and grey streak across my page of Stonehenge paper (100% Cotton), which was a huge unpleasant surprise to me as I was getting ready to buy a bottle. No other ink was anywhere near this bad, not even the ones that weren't in any way claiming to be water resistant. On good drawing paper this ink didn't resist one pass of a small damp brush.

 

This ink would be completely unsuitable for a watercolor wash, water based inks, or even a slight slosh of your water glass. The only thing good I can say about it is that it didn't have a problem with alcohol based inks (Copic/Prismacolor markers), unlike the Faber Castell PITT pens do. The PITT pens don't play well with Copic's, water/water based pens, or anything else as far as I can tell - I threw away nearly a complete set of both the Black and skin colored PITT pens except for the soft brush pen, which I like to doodle with on occasion. The PITT pen ink on this test failed both the waterproofness and copic tests this time too, which was no surprise.

 

I'm glad I only purchased a sample of this ink, since another good quality drawing paper I commonly use had the same results (but only tested with a couple of days of curing time, although I can't see that making any difference).

 

Just for the record, I don't have anything against Faber-Castell - the Polychromos colored pencils are my #1 choice for any colored pencil art. I own the complete set of 120 and I'm buying replacements all the time as I use them up. I'm not sure I understand the huge discrepancy in our different tests though, but I'll try it on more types of paper rather than what I normally use.

 

Other pigment based (pen) inks I tested didn't have any problems, to keep it on an apples to apples comparison, such as Sailor's Kiwa-Guro, Platinum Carbon, Sakura Pigma (disposable pens) and Pentel Pocket Brush Ink/Copic SP (cartridge only).

 

For other inks, Noodler's Black was excellent, but Noodler's Heart of Darkness had major issues - which was a bummer, since I had just bought it for line art.

 

Pentel pocket brush ink was excellent in terms of water resistance, as was the Platinum Carbon.

 

Higgins WP Drawing India Ink won hands down in both blackness and being absolutely waterproof, even after rubbing a finger across a line multiple times while it was wet, which all other inks failed to some degree. It isn't in the same category since it can't be used in pens (other than dip pens of course).

 

Maybe they changed the formulation since the initial review and now it is different, who knows. If f I was given a bottle of FC Carbon Black as a gift I'd smile, thank them, and then dump the ink and use the bottle as an inkwell... or something. Platinum Carbon Black has a glossy look I don't care for much, so I'll take Noodler's Black, the Pentel Pocket Brush, or Higgins WP India Ink any day of the week depending on how I'm going to be using it after seeing the incredibly bad water resistance of this ink.

 

 

post-121655-0-38970600-1428808323_thumb.jpg

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I quite agree with your review comments. This has become my favorite black for writing checks, addressing envelopes, and the like. It provides a soft and lush feel when writing, and the drying time for me has been surprisingly fast. It has replaced my Noodlers Bulletproof Black, which seemed to never dry and always smeared.

Edited by whichwatch
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  • 8 months later...

I bought a bottle of this ink, thinking that it was waterproof, or at least, water resistant. Unfortunately, it is barely water resistant, I have found. In every other way, it's an excellent ink, so I'll continue to use it, but I may just buy another bottle of Noodler's Black, which in most respects has been an excellent ink for me in the past.

 

I agree with Zhooom's comments about Platinum Black. It has an unsatisfactory shiny gray appearance under direct lighting. In every other respect, it's an excellent ink, but I won't use it again.

Edited by jonro
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  • 6 years later...

I have been using Graf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black as my main and favorite black ink for over a year.

My experience agrees with the original review and the other comments made in posts above.

 

Here are some additional observations about this remarkable ink ....

 

The ink is moderately water resistant on absorbent papers, but has the least water resistance of any ink I have ever used when on non-absorbent paper.

I use a wide variety of black inks for sketching and drawing with pen and with brush, and sometimes the ease of dissolving in water is just what a picture needs. For example: a small puddle of black ink on a large white glazed plate, a jar of plain water, and a watercolour brush.... splashes of water and ink are mixed with the brush on the plate to give various strengths of black and grey. A monochrome tonal picture can then be created on paper. The ink puddles are always drying out on the plate, so redissolving is a desirable feature. (Shellac-bound Indian Ink will quickly create a sticky black varnished plate!)

At clean-up time I rinse off the plate(s) under a tap and then scrub clean. If Indian Ink has been used then a little household bleach will easily dissolve the dried ink. (Shellac is water-soluble in alkaline solutions.)

Using GvF-C Carbon Black, as above, I was amazed to see every last trace of the ink falling away from the white plate when held in running cold water. Not a trace or shadow of stain remained. No wiping or rubbing needed! No other black ink (or other black water-based media) has ever behaved like that. At least a gentle rub with fingers is expected with other fountain-pen inks.

 

So this Carbon Black is now my preferred ink to use in certain fountain pens that are difficult to flush clean. I have a Sheaffer Imperial with a totally enclosed feed and grip section that cannot be dismantled. (Does anyone know how?) Flushing takes ages with that pen, and there always seems to be traces of ink still lurking inside the section.

With this Carbon Black I feel confident that even if residual traces do remain inside, and they dry out before the pen is used again in my pen rotation, the ink is not going to build up in the feed and ruin the pen.

 

Another hobby of mine is the study of surface tension effects by mathematical modelling and by experimental observations (so nothing strange there 😉). One day I was attempting to video the forms of the miniscule ink meniscus that wraps around the contact area between a pen nib and paper, and happened to include a pen with this Carbon Black ink in some set-up trials. Observed from the side, under high magnification, this ink did something that I have not seen in any other inks. As the wet nib was lifted up, away from contact with the paper, the ink meniscus did not break. It formed a thin strand or string of ink, like a hair fillament, about a millimeter or more long, linking the pen nib to the paper. Clearly visible for a split-second before vanishing! I have not managed to photograph the phenomenon, but I have glimpsed it numerous times since then when filling pens or when using a dip pen. Seen with this Carbon Black ink only though. This ink has unique flow properties.

 

Below is a page from one of my notebooks. The notebook is hand sewn, made from A4 90gsm HP Premium office copier paper. The fold-out sheet is white blotting paper with parallel tracks of chromatography tests on a selection of black inks. All inks were tested concurrently in a single run. The ink names at left are written with a rollerball. The text "Peacemaker dip pen" was written with a very wet loaded dip pen, as feathering tests. The smudges beneath that text are bleed-through tests of straight lines written with the same wet pen on the other side of the paper. The brush strokes were made with a rather dry watercolour brush to test density of black.

To the right we see the chromatographs. Faintly visible are acrylic varnish lines separating the tracks, like lanes on an athletics running track.

 

And the winners are.....

The award for lowest feathering and bleed goes to Sailor Kiwaguro.

The award for all round best behaviour in the non-pigment ink category goes to Graf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black.

The stewards did consider an objection that one ink had cheated by entering itself twice under two different names. After consulting video playback the appeal was rejected on the grounds that "Cross Black" and "Carbon Black" may have identical dye components but are very different in their feathering and bleed through results.

 

Investigations are ongoing into why Sailor Black is known to be a dye-based ink, behaves like a dye-based ink, but has a chromatograph similar to the two pigment inks (tracks 1 and 7).

 

large.BlackInksApril2021.jpeg.9be38e91d456f408132aa1d15e704112.jpeg

 

Everyone calls this ink "Carbon Black", including the Faber-Castell website. However the main text in the label on the bottle clearly shows "Carban Black" in cursive script. (The "o" is written as an "a"). Can anyone explain? 

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6 hours ago, dipper said:

However the main text in the label on the bottle clearly shows "Carban Black" in cursive script. (The "o" is written as an "a"). Can anyone explain? 

 

I only see a poorly written minuscule ‘n’, which is consistent with that on bottle labels for other ink colours, overlapping an otherwise unremarkable minuscule ‘o’ on the bottle label for GvFC Carbon Black ink. (The minuscule ‘h’ in ‘Midnight’ is so poorly written as well, that it is nigh indistinguishable visually from the ‘n‘.)

 

large.1453841745_PoorlywrittenminusculenonGvFCinkbottlelabels.jpg.5ec1d4bb4bf8aaacee5db2f5d0696db9.jpg

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct, and valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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23 hours ago, A Smug Dill said:

.....a poorly written minuscule ‘n’ .......... overlapping an otherwise unremarkable minuscule ‘o’ .....

 

.. Oh yes!  Plain to see, after being told what it is.

 

A high resolution photo for zooming-in super-close-up:

large.IMG_20220106_031109-01.jpeg.b2bab6984a5484e210787a80deb57da1.jpeg

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