October 11, 2013

Lamy Safari/Vista Nibs

My opinion of my Lamy Vista seems to change from month to month. I was very happy with it when I first got it (read all about it right here), but I've moved on to different and better fountain pens. I bought the Vista with an extra fine nib, but I've grown to dislike it. It's scratchy, it skips quite a bit, and it's not very smooth. Fortunately, one great thing about the Lamy Vista (and Safari) is that the nibs are interchangeable, are rather inexpensive, and are available in several different varieties. For that reason alone, the Lamy is great for experimentation.

So, back to the nibs. I ditched the extra fine nib and replaced it with a fine nib. That worked slightly better, but it still performed poorly compared to most of my other fountain pens (I realize that it may not be fair to compare the Lamy to "better" pens like the Pelikan M205, the Pilot Custom Heritage 91, and the Sailor Professional Gear, but they do serve as valid reference instruments). After suffering with the fine nib for a while, I decided to try a medium nib - it was on sale and hard to resist.

Lamy Vista - Medium Nib
The medium nib writes noticeably wetter and smoother than the fine and extra fine nibs, which is nice. However, the medium still skips from time to time, especially on good paper like Rhodia. It just seems to be really finicky. The aforementioned "better" pens do not skip or stop writing like this at all, so I'm disappointed and ready to call it quits on the Lamy. Well, maybe not giving up on it or throwing it away, but I don't think I'll be buying any more nibs for it.

Lamy Steel Nibs (EF, F, M)
Here are some writing samples that I prepared using the Lamy Vista with the medium nib, on different paper types:

Lamy Medium Nib Sample 1
Lamy Medium Nib Sample 2
Lamy Medium Nib Sample 3
Sample 3 was written on Rhodia Dot Pad paper. This is where most of the skipping and stopping occurs. I guess the Lamy nib does not like to write on super smooth glass-like paper. I suppose I could make this a non-issue by only using the Lamy on "lesser" paper, but then I would have nothing to complain about. What fun is that?

I really wanted to compare all three Lamy nibs side by side, but I didn't want to try hot swapping the nibs with a converter full of ink. Instead, I decided to fabricate a dip pen using cutting edge technologies.

Dip Pen
I would like to say that this setup worked well, but it really sucked. It did, however, enable me to scribble some lines in a very unstable manner for purposes of a side-by-side comparison. The less than impressive results are shown below:

I don't even know if there is a point, take-away, or moral to this story. I guess the TL/DR version is: I've tried three steel nibs from Lamy, and have struck out. I prefer to use my other pens that don't like to hop, skip, and jump so much.


  1. "I don't know if there is a point..." I see what you did there.

    1. Thanks for the insightful comment. I think.

  2. Besides nibs, ink can also make a difference when using a fountain pen. And a hot swap is easy to do with a Lamy, you'll get some ink on your fingers, just do it by a sink.

    1. Yes, good point. Ink and paper do make a difference.