Lamy Vista Fountain Pen with Extra Fine Nib

9 04 2011

Though this Behance Dot Grid paper was not particularly good for the use of this Lamy, I used it anyway. To consistency!

This past weekend, I took a trip to New York City, and among a bunch of minor pen-related ambitions, I had one shining goal: go to a fancy pen store, buy a fountain pen, do not go bankrupt in the process. And what do you know, I accomplished all three.

Perusal of the internet suggested that the Art Brown International Pen Shop would probably be the most rewarding place to frolic for a fountain pen, and though I have no other stores to compare it to, I’ll go ahead and agree. The front of the store contains two long rows of well-lit glass cases, much as a purveyor of fine jewelry might be seen to own, full of exceedingly fancy pens that were no doubt astronomically beyond my price range. I was so intimidated and overwhelmed by the fancy display that I immediately beat a retreat to the back of the store, to browse among the notebooks and more common writing utensils, and to pull together the courage to ask about a modestly fancy pen. Prior reconnaissance suggested that Lamy might offer just such a pen.

Such a pen.

After trying a couple nibs, I settled on the extra fine–my love of a fine line always wins the day (unless we’re getting so fine that the pen is tearing up the paper and getting fibers all clogged up in itself. That will lose the day).

See-through pens make me feel like I have X-Ray vision.

The first thing that caught my eye about the Vista was pure aesthetics–I love the clear-barrel look. It’s so much more interesting–has so much more going on–than the opaque, single color barrel. You can see the innards! Isn’t that thrilling? I think it’s fantastic.

With the clear barrel, everyone will know when you're using off-brand cartridges and they will JUDGE YOU MERCILESSLY.

Most of the pen is made of this thick, strong plastic (maybe one day I’ll learn the actual names of plastics and how to differentiate between them), which leads to two consequences: one, the pen checks in at about medium weight category (due almost entirely to every piece of metal on the cap); two: this pen shows fingerprints EVERYWHERE. Unless you write with gloves. It also works excellently to display dust and other unwanted detritus.

Oh hellooooo, Distinctive Clip that is both Functional and Decorative. What's that? You want to grab onto some papers and never let go? Don't be silly; you're strong, but not THAT strong.

As I mentioned, much of this pen’s weight is in the cap. I was worried this would make the writing experience feel off-balance with the pen being so top-heavy when the cap was posted, but I found that the weight provided just the right amount of counterbalance against my fingers gripping the top of the pen. The weight of the pen was comfortable in my hand, and it added to the writing experience.

The clip design is quite ingenious– rather than a flat clip that is parallel to the barrel, this clip…how do I put this…dips down along the side of the barrel, so that the overall plane of the clip intersects with the shape of the barrel (of course they don’t literally intersect because the clip is a sturdy wire rather than a filled-in plane). The result is a clip with a lot more gripping power–I wasn’t worried about it falling off when clipped onto the cover and several pages of a staple-bound Clairefontaine notebook as I carried it around for a walk. Though perhaps it is too strong?–I could easily see this creasing and bending the pages of a weak notebook cover.

Helpfully, the one part of the grip that bothers me the most is the part I managed to leave out of this picture. Crazy good photography, that!

The grip on the barrel is entirely smooth–just two long concave indentations for your thumb and fingers. My main problem with this pen is right here, in the grip, though I’m not sure if the problem is with the construction of the pen or with the way I tend to hold pens. The hard edge on the side of the concave grip for the thumb digs in a little at the base of my thumb, and I feel like the joint where the barrel connects to the body bothers my hand between the index finger and the thumb. I can’t write for very long with my current hand posture without experiencing some discomfort. Given that I’ve only had this pen less than a week, I’m not going to say that this is a write-off; we’re just getting to know each other here. I’ll see if I can get into the habit of holding the pen in a different way, so that the grip works with me while writing instead of bothering me incessantly.


I wish nibs had more colorful designations than “Extra Fine.” Something like “Super Fly” or “Totally Tubular.” And they would only work if you used rainbow ink. … This caption went way off topic.

I went with the extra fine nib (though I can buy other nibs later, if I change my mind), and I think this is probably the best nib for daily use. The amount of ink coming out here, for me, is at the perfect Goldilocks ratio–not too much (too much means the ink takes too long to dry), not too little (too little, obviously, means you’re often not even writing). I’ve been able to use this pen on normal papers, post-it notes, around the office–and not had to deal with the typical feathering, bleeding, and pooling of ink that accompanies a pen that writes too wetly. Most of my fountain pens aren’t appropriate (-ly functional) for office use; I was surprised that this one would be. Once I switch to a converter with some new ink, we’ll see whether this ability to write and be useful on normal paper is due chiefly to the ink or the nib.

In a world where pens like to give away ink like they're just MADE of dispensing mechanisms overflowing with inkly generosity, ONE NIB KNOWS how to strike the balance between sopping wet and infuriatingly dry.

Unlike some extra fine nibs I’ve dealt with, the Lamy EF nib is never scratchy. Writing is smooth, with the soft and satisfying sound of the nib making contact with the paper as it glides along. Some paper does better than others; the Behance Dot Grid was probably the poorest performer among my papers, and even then it wasn’t too bad. On papers like Rhodia and Clairefontaine, the pen just sails along. It makes me want to write even when I have nothing to say.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with this pen. I got to have a fun experience buying it, going to an actual pen store to try the pen out, the pen itself seems to be well constructed and quite aesthetically pleasing, it performs well (and also makes me want to write in cursive), and my biggest beef with the pen is probably something that a better/different grip posture will fix. Welcome, Lamy Vista, into the ranks of my favorite fountain pens (the ranks being divided into two categories: my favorites, and not my favorites).

Parting advice: before letting anyone else hold your pen, be sure to wipe all your fingerprints and dead skin cells off so people won't think you're so gross.



Lamy Vista Fountain Pen – EF Nib at Art Brown International Pen Shop



9 responses

9 04 2011

Regarding the grip issues, I think that it’s because the grip is made of the same plastic material as the rest of the pen. (I have a Lamy Safari, which is the same build as this pen, and I don’t like writing with it very much because I find the grip to be uncomfortable.)
However, I later got a Lamy Nexx M, which has the same grip shape but in rubber, and it is much more comfortable.

Also, don’t you think Lamy Blue is such a dreamy indigo sort of blue?

9 04 2011

I have a Vista, (though its M) and I love it. Nice review and I like your natural sketches. I have heard that Lamy EFs are not that consistent. Hence I only went as far as a F nib (I adore it – thats in a Charcoal Safaro though).

Having used a few other pens, I am really beginning to love the Lamys.

10 04 2011

I love demonstrators and I was considering getting a Vista. I have an AL-Star with an EF but I had some issues with that nib and after adjusting it I don’t think it writes like a true EF should.

11 04 2011

I have the Vista and a Safari, and I can’t tell the difference between the two. Well except for the fact that my white Safari sports a Medium nib which I dislike quite a bit, and in my opinion showcases dust and random bits and pieces of stuff much better than this clear Vista. My Vista has an EF nib too and I’ve found it to be great as well – just the right amount of ink flow without any scratchy happening on the paper. I’d like to try a Fine nib one of these days though…

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