2017年6月13日 星期二

Pelikan Souveran M800 “ Renaissance Brown” Special Edition Review

Pelikan Souveran M800 “ Renaissance Brown” Special Edition Review

I always tell myself that I don’t need so many fountain pens, I always tell myself that some very cheap Chinese Fountain Pens actually write quite well especially after I fine-tune them to my liking, and I always tell myself that a piston-filler pen is just a springe with a nib attached. I even always tell myself that while I like big fat pens, the M800 is too fat for my small hands.

But it turned out that when Pelikan announced the release of this M800 Special Edition, I was attracted by the promotional-photo and immediately pre-ordered it.
There’re many reasons for people to love a Pelikan, but I got my own special reason for not being able to deny this pen: The guys from Pelikan set the pen on a high-quality, classic picture frame and shot the promotional-photo! We’re in the professional Photo Printing & Framing business, that photo just made me mentally attached to this particular pen - it looks like this is THE PEN for a picture framer, the theme of this pen matches our business very well. Moreover, we do a lot of our art/photo printing jobs on Germen papers with customers’ great satisfactions. It’s natural to love German pens when we love German papers. “German-engineering”, what else?

For those who are new to the fountain pen world, here is some of my brief knowledge about Pelikan, Pelikan is the family symbol of one of the early owners, and the firm started as ink manufacturer and later switched to the production of fountain pen with a patented differential piston-filler mechanism. Like many other pen manufacturers, Pelikan underwent up and down throughout the history, and the ownership was transferred several times, but nowadays it still be able to maintain its reputation as one of the best German-quality pen manufacturers.

I think one of the formula of success of Pelikan is the periodically release of a special edition pen, and the special editions are usually based on the familiar existing models with the change of body material or colour schemes, so they don’t need to completely redesign a pen or incorporate new tooling, additional cost (and selling price) is kept low while the careful choice of the special edition materials are always stunning and impressive, and give significant differentiation to the standard product line and more importantly, maintain existing customers’ royalty, very clever. This M800 Renaissance brown is one of those.

So here we go into the actual pen, though it’s a special edition, there’s nothing special with the packing, it’s exactly the same as the standard Souveran line. The pen is protected inside a white pen porch, but this is just part of the packing and nothing more than a good looking bubble-wrap replacement, the elastic band is cumbersome and won’t last long if it’s really used as a pen porch.

The basic shape of this special edition is the same as the standard M800, just that the standard black cap and the strapped celloid barrel are changed into the stunning brown acrylic. Some people argued that the beauty of an acrylic material is nowhere comparable to celluloid, I think if one’s willing to invest, one may get elegant acrylics, such as what Pelikan demonstrated in its great-looking special edition pens.

The M800 is the second largest pen in the Souveran line-up, many people suggested that it’s already too fat to grip comfortably and too back-heavy for a long writing session. I got the same feeling especially as my hands are small even for Asian’s standard. I like heavy pens, but back-balance can be a problem even if the pen is not really heavy, interestingly, the balance with the cap unposted is already bad enough that posting it doesn’t create additional badness for me. If you prefer a daily writer or a work-horse pen, perhaps stop at the M600.

As with all Souveran pens, the M800 has a golden ring at the tip of the section, it looks nice but I’m worried that the plated gold will flake off over time due to ink corrosion, it is a common problem for golden rings located that close to the nib. To slow down ink corrosion process, Iron-gall inks should be avoided, clean and dry the pen thoroughly and don’t leave it inked when you don’t plan to use it for a long time, I know, it’s easier said than done specially if you’re an ink-holic.

Additional information about iron-gall inks, quite a lot of them are blue-black inks, they are at least slightly acidic and can corrode the metal parts of a pen faster than PH neutral ink (sadly I learnt it from experience but not a book). If it’s that bad, why people like iron-gall inks? They are quite archival-safe and water resistant, together with the blue-black colour they can be the best ink for business purpose.

Filling Mechanism
Pelikan manufactured the first differential piston filler fountain pen, if a piston-filler is a must-have in your collection, the Pelikan is a must-buy. The black finial (it’s actually a very dark brown) is the piston knob, a quarter of anti-clockwise turn will trigger the brass piston mechanism. This brass piston is robust and should last for many years, it adds heft (some people including me translate a bit of heft into quality) to the M800 over its smaller siblings with plastic pistons, but it is a double-edged sword for people like me with small hands, the back-balance problem gives me some less than peasant feeling when writing.

It’s interesting to operate the piston, but the truth is, I dislike wiping a pen after dipping it into an ink bottle (and this pen is too fat form some bottles), I prefer syringe-fill me pens with no exception even for a Pelikan which is one of the best piston-fillers. Am I wasting a piston-filler in this regard? May be not, the Pelikan’s nib-unit can be screwed out easily for a quick syringe-fill. With a C/C pen, I’ll have to remove the barrel, then remove the convertor before I can do a refill, which is more troublesome.
The barrel is slightly translucent, it’s ok to hold the pen under strong back light to check the approximate ink level.

The pen comes with a standard M800 medium-grade 18K gold nib, with beautiful 2 –tone nib-work. It’s a hard nib but not to the extent of a nail, It’s easy to get a bit of line variation and ink shading with ease, there is a slightly stub-characteristic for this nib. It seems to be well-known that Pelikan pens write a bit wider and wetter than many other pens of the same nib-grade, it is not the case here, I think the flow’s just average or even slightly on the dry side, for example it’s dryer than a Parker Duofold M and even a Pilot C74 F. I even compare it with a MB144 B as well, I know it’s unfair to compare M and B nibs, but the 144 is much wetter to an out-of-proportion extent. Forgot to mention, I inked it with 2 of my familiar J.herbin inks which are also in my other pens for fair comparison, I didn’t try it with Edlestein ink yet as I received mine just a week ago.

My conclusion

The Pelikan M800 may be a bit fat and back-balance for some people to write comfortably, nevertheless it is an iconic fountain pen to be respected, and by throwing in a bit more money at the right timing, you’ll be able to avoid the standard, mass-produced M800 and get a special edition which is more unique and exciting due to the eye-catching material used. It’s not only a writing tool, but a jewel as well. If you ever come across a SE(or even a LE) and you know you want it badly, don’t wait as they will be sold out real fast.

Contact: minglau@trailstudio.com.hk

2017年5月28日 星期日


HKBWS Go Bird Watching by MTR Photographic Art Exhibition



高興Trail Studio能為展覽出一分力,以我們一貫高品質印製相片及作出相關贊助。能參與慈善機構及環保組織的攝影展覽製作,讓我們有機會在自己專業範疇為社會做一些事,同時亦貫徹了當初成立高品質相片工場的信念 - 相片並不只是一個純粹的畫面,而是溝通、保存訊息的工具。而畫質優良的相片,能忠實傳達攝影訊息及藝術風格,從而讓圖片說故事、感染觀賞者。

是次展覽採用我們最高級的啞面Fine Art Paper製作。Fine Art Paper被視為archival-safe的物料,但亦能用於短期室內展覽。使用優質啞面Fine Art Paper展出作品有很多好處,例如:
1. 紙質較一般相紙厚重有質感,無需裱貼於底版也不易起縐
3. 極有利展出於燈光變化大/光線條件惡劣/無專業佈光之場地時,作品不受反光問題困擾,讓參觀者能多角度觀賞。
4. 同樣原因,使用手機/相機內置閃光燈拍照留念也不必擔心作品畫面變白。

Fine Art Paper用於短期展覽時一般不會配上玻璃作保護,愛護展品,請勿觸摸。


開幕禮日期:2017年6月1日 (星期四)
地點:將軍澳PopCorn一期一樓大舞台1 (將軍澳港鐵站商場)

Exhibition Details: 
Go Bird Watching by MTR Photographic Art Exhibition
Date: 1– 9June 2017
Time: 10:00am – 10:00pm

Venue: 1/F Atrium of PopCorn (Tseung Kwan O MTR Station)

Hong Kong Bird Watching Society 香港觀鳥會: http://www.hkbws.org.hk/

Trail Studio: http://www.trailstudio.com.hk






等待包裝的相片。由於每次的訂單都是不同款色尺寸的,我們根本不能大量訂製包裝物料,個別包裝時要讓製品得到合理保護,又要考慮客戶能否輕易安全地取出相片,用的功夫也不簡單呀。很有趣的,常有不少客戶大讚我們的包裝方式 :) 

2017年5月15日 星期一

Sailor 1911 Standard / Sailor Profit Standard Demonstrator Fountain Pen Review

I'm switching to English Channel for the first time in this blog, see if I'll be able to meet some new friends around the world.

Here is an idea of my background, while many people in my place(Hong Kong) know me as a large-format photo printing specialist at Trail Studio. I'm also an experienced product designer with engineering & manufacturing knowledge, so I can apply my knowledge when talking about fountain pens. 

It seems to me that fountain pen is a matter of hit-or-miss. Problem is that, tolerance exists in every manufacturing process, it is not noticeable for most products, but is critical for fountain pen nibs, which require high precision as they rely on capillary-action to get the ink flowing. Unfortunately pen manufacturers aren't doing rocket-science, and some problems may have been caused by the handling of retailers as well. Whatever brand of fountain pen may have a good chance to go wrong, it's better to try the particular pen before you buy it, or to buy from nib-meisters who will test and adjust the pen. Or, at least read some reviews before making your purchase. So, here is my contribution to the great community of fountain pens.

Here we go, Sailor is one of the well reputed "big-3" Japanese fountain pen manufacturers, the other 2 being Pilot and Platinum (where is the Driver? Just kidding :D). I didn't care about the Japanese pens in the early days of my pen journey as they look plain and boring, until I acquired some Pilot fountain pens and realized how precise the nibs were and how great the writing experience was.

The Japanese Fountain Pen manufacturers should be well respected because they are the very few contemporary ones who still manufacture their own nibs - the soul of fountain pens. They are able to offer a wide variety of nib options, giving unique characteristics to their pens. To be fair, some of my Japanese pens have issues just like their western counterparts, the gold-nib pen which gave me the most trouble ever, is another popular Japanese Pen, the #3776, I’ve made intensive adjustments to get it work well. Indeed I had worked on about 1/3 of my "branded" fountain pens to get them write well.

Some people consider the Sailor 1911 (as well as whatever black/gold cigar pens) as Mont Blanc knock-off, but to me the 1911 is just another cigar-shaped pens with basic(or classic) constructions. Many online sources suggested that the archetype of black/gold cigar-shape pens is the Sheaffer Balance, first introduced at around 1929 which pre-dated the MB Masterpiece line.

I don't consider the 1911 as MB knockoff, but I can't control what people think. I use my pens in business environments, to avoid confusions or misunderstandings, I'm forced to avoid the black-body 1911. I've been eyeing this demonstrator model for a long while, but a golden-converter was unavailable at the time, the chrome one was a poor match to the gold-trim (same case as the Platinum 3776 Nice), so I didn't pull the trigger until I realized a golden converter is actually available.

Pen Body

This is a 1911S demonstrator, S stands for "standard-size". The Japanese pen was aimed for their own market, so it is a ok for we Eastern people to use it unposted. However, for Western people with larger hands, the “S” should in real-life stands for "short" or "small", and the cap probably has to be posted before use. For a pen of such a small size, the metal piece in the section make this pen heavier than what it appears to be, and make it well balanced either with the cap posted or unposted. Some heft in a small body can mean quality to some people, including me.

I like big pens, but for the 1911 demonstrators, I prefer this 1911S over the 1911L because I love the proportion of the smaller barrel to the inner workings(i.e. the piston converter) - there is not much empty space inside the pen, it's transparent but not hollow, and reminds me this pen is small but practical. In contrast, the internal space of the barrel of the 1911L demo looks a bit wasted to my own taste, it also reminds me the Sailor converter is of low ink capacity and doesn't utilize the advantage of the larger pen body. Anyway, if you’ve big hands, it's better to get the 1911L.

Here comes my biggest criticism – the cap doesn’t post well. It is friction-fit, but the area of contact between the barrel and the cap is extraordinarily narrow, you'll need to press hard to produce sufficient friction and you know you'll scratch the pen very soon. More to the problem, resting your hand not exactly on that narrow ring-of-contact will create a leverage and wobble the cap slightly, that's annoying and is enough to break the friction all in a sudden, the cap may then fall out easily as the tapered barrel can't encase it. I suspect this problem is unique only to the demonstrator model with large single metal cap-ring, as the cap opening is made larger to avoid the metal ring from scratching the plastic (or "precious resin") of the barrel, it looks great but doesn't work well.

Now comes my second complaint about this pen. Many of us get used to flush the section before use, or when changing ink (the maintenance procedure is written in the user manual as well). Unbelievably, doing so is not good for this pen! Water will run through 2 little trenches at both sides of the feed collar (the black plastic part) and trapped inside the clear section if you flush it the usual way. I had to disassemble the pen and wait for 1 or 2 days to have the water evaporate. If ink goes inside this space it will be difficult to wash it out (perhaps try using syringe), and it may stain or corrode the metal, that will be ugly. I guess the best way to clean the pen is to keep the converter attached and soak the water up through the nib, or to flush it with the nib ALWAYS facing upwards.

The pen clip wobbles sideways a bit, not ideal but no big deal. I like the shape of this old-clip far more than that of the "Sigma" or "Mk.ll" version. To me, the clip of the Sigma version looks like a skateboard, and the anchor-shape thing on it is too big and looks "cartoonish". Sorry to say that the new clip design effectively stealth those new Sailor pens from my radar.

For a demonstrator pen, it's always a good idea to display the nib with the use of a clear-enough inner cap. The inner cap of this pen is not spring-loaded like the Platinum#3776, but it's quite elastic and is able to create an air-tight seal, I didn't experience hard-start or ink drying-out even when the pen is left inked for 2+ weeks. The plastic column inside the top of the cap looks like a cap jewel, a nice touch.

Another great feature with demonstrator pen is that, you are able to immediately know how much ink is left and what ink you're using without unscrewing the barrel.

Converter and ink capacity
As mentioned, the ink capacity is low, I didn't actually measure it, by observation the cavity is short and narrow, and ink level drops fast even that I'm not a heavy pen user and the nib is relatively dry. The converter can be dissembled easily by twisting the metal collar, pay attention not to twist it when you operate the piston, otherwise it may lead to ink leakage, I bet you don't like to demonstrate this. It's good to put silicon grease inside of this collar and around the piston knob as a safety measure.

Nib & Feed
The nib art is appealing, it is marked as H-F (hard fine) and writes relatively dry, with some feedback on certain papers. It writes finer than my other japanese fine-nibs. The feedbacky feel is consistent across different writing angle and directions, and since the first day I inked it, this means the nib is well-ground. I've inked it with several J.herbin inks, which all worked well so I didn't try other inks, I'm afraid there'll be flow issues if thicker/more viscous inks are to be used.

It's easily one of the hardest nibs I've ever used, you won't get much line variation unless you press it real hard, but the relatively tapered tip allow the nib to get some barely noticeable "initial spring", I mean, the slit opens very slightly when it touches the paper and then stopped there, not enough to produce noticeable line variation, but sufficient to pour down a bit more ink to produce nice shading. I'm very happy with the performance of this nib.

It seems that Sailor's (fine) nib is well-known for a distinctive feedbacky feel, it somehow feels like writing with a very sharp 2H pencil. It's not my scientific analysis but just theory, the feedback is not produced with any secret recipe, but simply because these factors happen altogether:

1) the tipping material is smaller and it writes finer than the other Japanese "F", it's probably EF by Pilot's standard. It's just not easily noticeable especially as the "initial springiness" widen the line to the other Japanese "F" standard before firmly stops there. 
2) it's on the dry side so it receives less lubrication from ink
3) it's really nail-hard (the "initial springiness" I mentioned isn't noticeable at all) so there's no damping when the nib glides across the paper.

Besides viewing under a loupe, one easy way to distinguish between a good feedbacky nib and a faulty scratchy nib, is to draw a horizontal straight line, then draw again in backward direction, and repeat with lines of other angles. If the nib is significantly scratchier on some lines/directions, chance for a mis-aligned slit or a deformed tip is high.

This is a great c/c demonstrator pen, and for people with big hands, it is especially excel as an EDC pen: small thus handy, with a little bit of heft but not heavy, most importantly it writes really well. It is eye-catching with its crystal clear body and gold trims, and people can easily tell it's a fountain pen - a good tool for fountain pen addicts to reveal their identity! With this pen, you always know how much ink is left so there’s no worry about running out of ink in a sudden - a good feature for an EDC pen as refilling it on-the-go is usually not an option. Unfortunately the cap doesn't post well, and can be a problem for EDC pens in situations like jotting quick notes without a desk, it's still ok if you pay attention, just don't lend the pen to the others with the cap posted.

2017年2月22日 星期三

樂施會的另一次「非洲攝影相展」@Time Square

收到通知, 樂施會將於2月24-27日(星期五六日一), 在銅鑼灣時代廣場地面展覽廳舉行「非洲攝影相展」,展覽的目的是要透過圖片說故事,介紹樂施會的工作,亦介紹非洲人如何積極樂觀地面對生活。

展出之大相正是我們去年於另一展覽所贊助的Harman by Hahnemuhle大相。當時使用了「短期展覽裝裱方式」,如保養得宜,相信一年後作品仍大致完好吧。

順道分享一下去年Oxfam於i-square的展覽花絮。如錯過了上次的展覽而又想了解非洲的生活、看看攝影師們的高水準作品,又或感受一下高品質fine art paper 如何為攝影作品畫龍點睛,更添迫真感,就要留意是次展覽了。以我們所知是次展覽佈置會相對簡約一點。

p.s. 行有餘力的話,請支持樂施會的工作!

Fine Art Quality Photo Printing service by Trail Studio
Enquiry / Ordering Email: enquiry@trailstudio.com.hk
(The large-format photos of this Oxfam's exhibition was produced and sponsored by Trail Studio)
以下是其中一位參展攝影師阿潘的blog: https://www.facebook.com/poonwainang/

2016年12月4日 星期日



#書法展覽 #毛筆書法 #書法班 #三餘書學社 #香港中央圖書館 #藝雅文房用品公司 #文房四寶 #香港書法 #書法學會 #書法 #劉學清老師 #中國藝術

2016年10月28日 星期五

J. Herbin 1670 系列新墨水 - Caroube de Chypre

J.Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre, 近期推出的新顏色

始創於1670年的法國J.Herbin 是現存最古老
墨水品牌,J.Herbin 原本是名水手,由印度把火漆帶回法國,用自己名字創立品牌



但墨水筆市場是Niche-market, 這招「爛神秘」反而非常成功,加上此墨水的確很迷人,令一眾

由自己公司走到文具店購買墨水不過是一條馬路之隔,此時剛好遇到一位法國熟客前來取相(我們Trail Studio攪高質的相片製作嘛,詳情請點擊此link;浪漫、對美感有要求的在港法國攝影師/發燒友當然也是我們的客戶群之一),於是在公司樓下傾談了一陣子。

未聽過這款墨水……他還問: 這種墨水是否正是替他印相的墨水? 其實是在你的receipt上簽名用的墨水才對,多謝多謝!



2016年10月10日 星期一


(這兩支是Pilot 78G, 是頗便宜的墨水筆, 筆嘴雖稍缺乏"性格", 但很順滑很好寫的) 


工作上常用到墨水筆,有幫襯過Trail Studio製作大相油畫相、印fine art paper 等服務的客戶們可能會留意到阿Ming開的receipts是用墨水筆簽名的。


Q: 原子筆又平又方便,為甚麼仍要用墨水筆?

A: 雖然我不太喜歡使用原子筆,但兩者其實各有好處,何時用哪種筆就是適當地選用不同工具做不同的事情而已。
1. 墨水筆依靠微絲管作用及地心吸力來出墨,只要筆尖接觸到紙張,不需額外用力便能書寫,很省力。原子筆依靠滾珠轉動把油墨帶出,書寫時要些力壓在紙上才能轉動滾珠,尤其長用時較易疲倦。(其實較高檔的原子筆芯,又或走珠筆也很省力的)
2. 雖說墨水筆無需用力書寫,但有些墨水筆nib有彈性,可透過適當用力,使文字線條起粗幼變化,看上去更具美感,更有表達力。
3. 有些墨水筆會配有特殊用途的筆嘴(如italic/flex/zoom/fude/double line等),可以做出很豐富的字體效果。
4. 墨水的顏色、種類亦遠比原子筆豐富,寫出來也常會有sheen(光澤)shading(深淺色)等有趣耐看的視覺效果。
5. 普通原子筆芯不會被筆管套得很緊,因此書寫/繪畫時會感覺到線條有很細微的移位,亦會在落筆時發出「嗒嗒」聲。由於書寫/繪畫的線條本身也很幼(可幼至0.3mm左右),那個"細微"的移位
,與只有0.3mm的線條相比,位移率又不是真的那麼微不足道,尤其對認真的畫家來講(完美主義,說明了Trail Studio的高品質是怎來的了 :p),而墨水筆則沒有此問題。
6.   墨水筆(又或貴價的原子筆)因為能負擔較高的設計及製作成本,產品很多樣化,有不同形狀、重量、筆管粗幼,對不同使用者的書寫體驗(舒適度)有很大影響。這是很個人的,特別貴的筆不一定特別舒適就手,但如果使用一般又幼又輕身的筆時有不就手、易倦的感覺,不防找這類粗身一點的筆試試會否舒適些。

Q:  墨水筆常漏墨、塞墨、出不順嗎

A: 墨水筆與所有產品一樣,在製作時是有工差、不良品的(有機會再講講如何選購墨水筆),不少人的第一支墨水筆都會是較平價的產品,一分錢一分貨,有些平價品牌/型號易出問題,可能因此導致一些人對墨水筆產生不良印象也不出奇。但也有些情況是誤用所致:
1.  墨水筆的墨管很幼,小小的塵埃或生產時殘留的油脂都可能會對其造成阻塞。新買回來的筆,通常用清水加些洗潔精清洗一下nib & feed 會穩當些。切勿用有機溶劑,亦不要把零件浸在水中太久。
2. 存放、攜帶墨水筆時應平放、或筆尖向上。墨水筆夾位於筆蓋,又或是capless筆的筆夾

3.  墨水筆不是任何墨水也可使用的,要認清楚專用的墨水。墨水筆通常使用的是dye ink,缺點是字體不太防水,但萬一乾涸了,清洗很簡易。另有一些墨水筆用的墨註明是pigment ink的,好處是防水(可用來簽重要文件 及 繪畫,因畫線後上色時不化水),但由於乾涸後不再水溶,筆塞了後會很難清潔,甚至要報銷(p.s.也是常見的printer報銷原因)。如不常用筆,應要避免使用pigment ink,間中才需要簽重要文件的話,原子筆的確是較好選擇。再另有些dip pen用的pigment ink/indian ink/calligraphy ink,是不絕應用在墨水筆上的。
4.  一支性能良好的墨水筆,墨水在關筆蓋後最少兩三星期也不會乾涸的,如墨水筆放在一旁一兩星期便乾涸,可能要考慮修理或乾脆放棄這支筆。
5. 如果擁有很多墨水筆,應把近期不用的筆先清洗後收藏。因為有些墨水是有腐蝕性(如iron gall ink),會傷筆的。
6.  把墨水筆帶上飛機使用的話,會易因高空氣壓不同而漏(甚至"噴")墨的,要避免一下(理論上入滿墨水應沒問題但我不求証了)。有些高價vacuum filler墨水筆設有閥門可大減氣壓帶來的問題,但如果不小心錯誤操作,看來還是會發生災難.......

Q: 網上有很多墨水筆的評測blog(主要都是外國的,可靠嗎?

A: 對於判斷一支筆是否適合自己很有參考價值,但卻不一定可靠。我覺得絕大部份blog友的分享是非常中肯的,只是有幾個較少人注意到,卻會影響可靠性的原因:墨水筆就像其他產品一樣,製造時每件產品之間會有「工差」,而墨水是流動性極高的液體,一些細微得肉眼無法分辨的工差會對墨水流動(筆的性能)有所影響。紙、筆、墨的配搭亦會很影響筆的表現,舉例有些人用了與筆不配合的墨水,導致出墨不順,卻誤會是筆的問題。再者,外國流行郵購,用家不能事先檢查後購買,他們遇到的出問題的筆,可能是零售商或托運公司造成的個別損壞。最後,筆並不像一般電子產品般會經常轉款並改用新名稱,相反在長長的產品周期中,可能會在中途更改了些許細節,又或依照舊款原有的所謂「血統」從新設計過,並「承繼」了原有名稱,因此一些外表相似而且名字相同的筆,結構或生產方式可能有很大差異,並不是真正同款筆。看筆的review一定要留意日期,如果相隔了兩三年以上,評測的準確度會減低。

Q: 為何外國的墨水筆blog友常用"the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"來試筆那麼奇怪?

A: 這句特別之處是包含了a-z 所有字母,能以句子的形式測試墨水筆書寫所有常用(英文)筆劃的表現。

Q: 墨水筆通常用extra fine/ fine/ medium/ broad (其實還有很多種類的)去標示筆嘴粗幼,不同廠之間有統一標準嗎?

A: 粗幼是沒有標準的,常見的情況是相同標示的日本筆嘴比多數歐美筆嘴幼一個碼。估計是由於日文(含漢字)結構比英文字母複雜,需要較幼線條之故。留意除了tipping大小外,如果筆嘴很wet(出很多墨)條線易化開,線條自然也較粗。看過有些歐美blog友認為部分日本筆較"dry"(如果說到nib dry得太過份,要留意他是否選了不配合的墨水),我估計其中一個原因是為了寫日文不想字體化開而作的考慮。

Q: 有不少歐美blog友對日本三大墨水筆品牌讚不絕口,真的嗎?

A: 日本三大品牌是Pilot, Sailor Platinum (奇怪,竟然不是driver!)。或許日本與歐美在文化背景、筆商經營模式及理念有分別吧。在墨水筆的黃金時代過後,歐美不少墨水筆廠要麼掙扎求存,要麼關門大吉後品牌(空殻)被其他商家收購以圖再度利用品牌效應獲利,這可從各品牌的拼購中看出。歐美人工高,有些較平價歐美筆要靠代工製造或從其他廠買現成零件(包括筆嘴)組裝來節省成本。反觀日本人對工藝有些堅持(哈,我們Trail Studio也是),又或許他們因文化背景能維持到一定需求可薄利多銷,人工成本又較歐美低,以一支鋼嘴歐美筆的價錢,隨時能購得一支K金嘴日本筆。因此日本筆可謂很抵用,尤其nib有很多好選擇而我呢,老實說,在書寫方便很喜歡pilot(我其中一支Pilot Custom743 FA,以新筆來說,此筆實難找到其他替代品)。但是日本筆的造型⋯⋯在我看來通常都實在太悶太沒特色了,我個人買日本筆只是為了其筆嘴特別而已,針無兩頭利呀。

Q: K金嘴一定比鋼嘴好嗎?

A: 站在豪華感的立場來說是一定的了。但在書寫體驗方面又未必一定。有人說真金是軟金屬,落筆時會有點彈性,舒適些。這通常對,但又不是絕對的。k金不是純金而是合金,合金的軟硬度會視乎其他金屬成份(如銀/銅)而異,筆嘴厚薄及形狀也會影響彈性。舉例說我手邊的Parker Duofold k金嘴簡直是nail-hard的。我亦擁有分別是鋼頭及k金頭的Parker 45, 兩者在彈性方面可謂分別不大。有人說k金頭在書寫時順滑流暢些,但要明白多數筆嘴,真正接觸紙的尖端是有一點堅硬耐磨的iridium tipping的,不銹鋼或k金都沒有真正與紙接觸,k金磨擦時順一點的說法不太成立。而我兩支同nib-grade Parker 45比較,鋼嘴那支反倒較暢順,我相信這個例子可以說明流暢與否,有時與打磨的關係較大。當然,我會相信金筆嘴因物料貴,製作打磨時也會特別小心;不銹鋼筆嘴則易出現較多粗製濫造的情況。我間中會買到有點刮紙的筆,改善方法就是自行修正,打磨一下,之後當然是掂晒啦,哈哈!