I’ve been married for 23 years. Aside from my winning personality and my wife’s infinite patience and tolerance, there is one reason why this is so. I’m not nearly as fickle about women as I am about fountain pens. Once I found a wife that would tolerate me, even my cooking, I held on for dear life. Not so my choice of fountain pens.
I’m new to journal sketching but not to fountain pens. I’ve been using the later since high school, long enough ago that events of the time are showing up in history books. But I’ve only been sketching for three months. When I started my favorite pen for sketching was the Lamy Safari. Inexpensive, more reliable than any other, and you can get it in a variety of colors for color-coding the inks you’re using.
Since October, however, I’ve purchased a Kaweco All-Sport, a really fine, tiny (short word for great portable sketch kit pen) reliable line-producer. Not quite as fine a line as the Lamy but still a great pen.
Then I chased the notion of a “flex pen.” I had nothing but trouble with my standard Noodler’s flex and while I’ve also had a few glitches with my Noodler’s Ahab, it’s a pretty nice sketching pen as well. I have a hard time getting as thin a line as I’d like, however.
And so my quest continued. At each of these junctures I returned to my Lamy but I was determined to find a fountain pen that would draw as fine a line as a Pigma Micron 01. I avoid disposable pens; there are simply too many billions of them floating in the Atlantic for me to want to add to the pile.
And so it was when I sent off a paltry sum for a Pilot 78G. In fact, I bought two of them because they were so cheap. When they arrived I was impressed. The 78G produces a very fine line – just what I was after. Using either Noodler’s Lexington Gray (my favorite waterproof sketching ink) or Platinum Carbon Black, the Pilot 78G writes very dry. I wouldn’t say it skips on me as that wouldn’t be true, but it sure feels like it’s about to when I use it, particularly if I start cross-hatching. The 78G is also an opaque body pen so I can’t see how much ink you’ve got which is a problem for me as I want to take itto do field sketching. It doesn’t come with a converter so you have to add $6-7 to the price to get one (The Con-50 fits it). I found the cap threads to be sloppy and some have reported the cap coming off. Mine have certainly loosened on their own.
And so it was that I decided to bite the bullet and send my $50+ to Goulet Pens for a Pilot Prelude. Of the pens I’ve mentioned, this is the most expensive. And now that I’ve had it for a couple days I feel it’s worth the price. Most say that the nib on the 78G and the Prera are the same. I sure can’t see a visible difference except that the 78G is gold-plated. But when I put them to paper, my Prera is much smoother than my 78Gs. I leave it to pen experts to debate such things, though.
The Prera is much more solid in my hand than the 78G, which feels like the ultra-cheap pen that it is. Some say the Prera is ‘too small’ but I’m a pretty big guy and find that with the cap posted, it feels very good in my hands. I bought one of the “demonstrator” models to get a clear pen body, though Pilot is wise in coloring both ends of these pens so some ability to color-code multiple pens is still a possibility. The Prera comes with a converter so there’s no extra purchase necessary. At this point I’ve only put Noodler’s Lexington Gray through it and the Prera likes it just fine, whether I’m writing on Clairfontaine paper or drawing on watercolor paper. It’s my new favorite pen.
So if you’re looking for a truly ‘fine’ line you could do worse than to look at Pilot pens. A price comparison between the Prera and 78G favors the 78G but the price you pay for cheap is significant in my opinion.
78G: $14 + $7 for converter = $21 from Jet Pens
Prera: $55 (clear models) from Goulet Pens and doing business with Rachel and Brian is priceless.