Thursday, December 11, 2014

Noodler's GI Green (V-Mail) ink review

Noodler's GI Green marks the 4th ink tested by me in the V-Mail series, after North African Violet, Burma Road Brown, and Operation Overlord Orange. Read more about V-Mail inks directly on Noodler's site.

I always enjoyed the way Noodler's comes up with all these different ink series, with similar properties within the series, but slightly different from the inks outside it. That's why I picked up a few samples of V-Mail inks a while back.

Noodler's GI Green shading

Today's review was written in my Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib.

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 3 oz / 90 ml
Price: $12.50
Price / ml: $0.14

Color and saturation

While I found the previous V-Mail inks to be rather unique in color, I can't say the same about GI Green. Perhaps I tested too many green inks. While fairly pedestrian, it is a pleasant shade of green, nonetheless.

GI Green is a dark green, saturated ink. I found that it looks duller (less saturated) on absorbent (read cheap photocopy) paper, but more vibrant on something like Clairefontaine.

In the copy paper sample I compared it with Diamine Green Black (darker) and Noodler's Gruene Cactus Eel (much lighter).

I also shot a separate comparison next to Noodler's Green and Green Marine. As you can see, these dark inks all look very similar, but personally I lean towards Noodler's Green.

Noodler's GI Green vs Green vs Marine Green

For what it's worth, this is the second ink review shot with my new camera.

Shading

Although dark(ish), Noodler's GI Green definitely has some shading going on. The shinier the paper, the more it likes to gather in dark pools at the end of the nib's stroke.

Noodler's GI Green shading

Feathering

None.

Bleedthrough

For how dark this ink is, it doesn't bleed a lot on cheap paper, but you can definitely see its ghost on the reverse.

One thing that I found interesting was how the ink showed through under the very thick q-tip swab, as well as the patch where it seeped through the paper in the water resistance test. Check it out below: some cool hints of gold-green and turquoise.

Noodler's GI Green bleed

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

In the Kaweco it flows very smoothly and also very wetly. I'm sure some folks will be put off by how wet it is. I'd give it a 9/10 wetness score. Just be careful if you put it in an eyedropper fountain pen, as it might start spitting once it runs low.

Drying time

The drying time is very quick on cheap paper but obviously longer on Clairefontaine. Even then, it's within acceptable range.

Smearing when dry

None.

Water resistance

Noodler's GI Green is supposed to be water resistant but I guess this varies from ink to ink. In this case, it's definitely not waterproof. As you can see from the sample, some of it washes off after being exposed to running water. The dark component runs off, leaving a much lighter shade of almost-turquoise or almost-teal.

Conclusion

Noodler's GI Green is the green member of the V-Mail family with nice shading and a bit of water resistance. If you want to collect all V-Mail inks, go for it. If not, it is still a very solid choice as a dark green ink. However, my personal take on this is that Noodler's simply has too many green inks (especially dark ones) in the lineup. While I love the quirkiness of Noodler's brand, sometimes it overwhelms even an ink enthusiast with so many variations of the same shade.

Following are the two samples on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

Noodler's GI Green on photocopy

Noodler's GI Green on Clairefontaine

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia ink review

Manjiro Nakahama Whaleman's Sepia is a special ink from Noodler's, in that there's an interesting story behind it, it comes only in 4.5 oz bottles which include a free pen, it has a peculiar scent, and the color is rather unique. One more, very important detail, is that this is one of Noodler's security inks, meaning that it was designed to be tamper proof, including high resistance to agents such as bleach.

The name Manjiro Nakahama comes courtesy of a Japanese gentleman who was really into ships and such. Follow the link under his name if you want to find out more but I won't bore you with the details.

In a nutshell, Whaleman's Sepia was designed to resemble the inks that old-time whalers used to make out of squid ink. Very cool concept. I wish it were actually made from squid ink.

I've been waiting a long time to review this ink and here it is, finally. Was it worth the wait? Methinks not, but read on to find out why.

I tested a sample of this ink in my Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib.

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 4.5 oz / 133 ml
Price: $27.50 (+ free pen)
Price / ml: $0.20

Whaleman's Sepia is a tad pricier than regular Noodler's inks but not by much and it does come with a pen (an eyedropper Platinum Preppy). You're out of luck if you don't need so much of it though, because it doesn't come in smaller bottles.

Quick word about the peculiar smell. While pungent, I don't find it unpleasant at all. It doesn't stink outright, but you will definitely feel it if you put your nose to the bottle/vial.

Color and saturation

Whaleman's Sepia is supposed to be a sepia-colored ink, which is a shade of brown. It has high saturation but the main problem (for me) is that it comes very close to black as opposed to brown. To my eyes, on paper, it looks positively black. What's interesting is that the photos managed to capture the brown better than my eyes can distinguish it.

Speaking of photos, this is the first ink review where I'm using a new camera to shoot the ink samples.

Back to the ink, in the copy paper example there's a comparison with a regular brown ink, Noodler's Polar Brown. The differences between them couldn't be greater. Just for a lark, I decided to compare it to Noodler's Heart of Darkness (below) and it's obvious how much more it resembles a black ink than a brown one.

Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia vs HOD

Shading

I could say there's none, but if I peer closely into its murky darkness, there are slight variations, so for the sake of brevity I will admit that there is some color variation.

Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia shading

Feathering

None.

Bleedthrough

Obviously, such a dark ink will bleed on cheap paper. On Clairefontaine 90g it doesn't.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

The crux of my beef with Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia is that it is a very dry ink, and I don't like this type at all. Folks with free-flowing nibs might enjoy it though, but it doesn't work for me. The Pilot Vanishing Point struggles with it and the nib dries up after every use. Once it gets going, it writes smoothly enough - when it doesn't skip - and it likes to do that a lot. Unfortunately I've been forced to pump the pen's converter pretty often, to get it going.

Drying time

Drying time is longish on smooth paper but fairly short on photocopy. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Smearing when dry

Surprisingly, this ink doesn't smear much, even on Clairefontaine, provided it dries well. I would have expected it to smear but apparently it bonds really well with the cellulose in the paper. That's very good, but don't forget this is a security ink, meaning that smear resistance should come with the territory.

Water resistance

Water resistance is 9-9.5/10. It's not perfect because a very thin layer washes off after exposure to water, but I don't see that as an issue.

One thing that I didn't test and I would like to find the time for, is bleach resistance. The documentation states that the ink changes color from brown to red to purple, the stronger the bleach. Hopefully I can test that soon.

Conclusion

Sadly I'm not a fan of Noodler's Manjiro Nakahama Whaleman's Sepia. I love the lore behind this ink and the intent, but the color is too dark (though I'm sure for others this is a boon), and worst of all it writes too dry for comfort. Furthermore, unless you need tons of it, you won't find it in smaller bottles. I would give this one a pass, but if you are a fan, please share your experience, I'd love to hear about it.

Here are the two samples, on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g, respectively.

Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia on photocopy

Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia on Clairefontaine

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Diamine Coral ink review

Crazy as it may sound, I've been using Diamine Coral in my Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib and eyedropper conversion at work for the past couple of weeks. Yes, a hot pink ink. What baffles me is how my co-workers can be completely oblivious to the fact. Oh well, I like flying under the radar.

So here's my review of Diamine Coral, specifically a small sample of it since I didn't purchase an entire bottle.

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 80 ml / 2.7 oz
Price: $12.95
Price / ml: $0.16

Color and saturation

Diamine Coral is essentially a pink ink with a twist. You see, there are some hints of orange in it, and even magenta. It's practically borderline orange. While I put "medium-low" for saturation on the photocopy sample, it is actually a pretty well saturated ink, bright and vibrant. I will thus upgrade the saturation rating to "medium-high".

Diamine Coral vs Noodler's Dragon's Napalm vs Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki

Notice that I compared it to several inks I've tested in the past, including Noodler's Dragon's Napalm (orange classification) to which it bears the greatest resemblance, Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki, and even Diamine Orange, which I used as a control sample since it is the most neutral orange in the comparison.

Shading

While not evident at first, Diamine Coral shades subtly, with the aforementioned hints of orange. You'd have to use thicker lines or swabs to see it though.

Diamine Coral shading

Feathering

None.

Bleedthrough

None.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Diamine Coral flows liberally in the Kaweco Sport. While smooth, it may be a little too wet for some folks' liking. As the level in the eyedropper got low and the air inside expanded, it started spitting ink on the page, at a slightly higher rate than other inks. I'm used to that because it happens with every ink, but it's worth bearing in mind if you want to use this ink in an eyedropper fountain pen.

Drying time

It took a while for it to dry on Clairefontaine but I did use a broad nib, so it might vary for you. On cheap copy paper it dries quickly though.

Smearing when dry

None.

Water resistance

Diamine Coral is not water resistant.

Conclusion

I wasn't very keen on Diamine Coral at first but it grew on me as I used it. I guess the subtle shading played its part but I also liked how well and smooth it flowed. While I would personally not buy an entire bottle of pink ink, I'm sure it would be great for any artistic endeavor. There's one feature of Diamine Coral that I'm not too fond of: it tends to stain containers. The plastic vial it came in remained pink after I washed it, and my demonstrator Kaweco Sport is all pink, including the inside of the cap where the ink leaked. I'm preparing to give it a long and thorough wash when I'm done with it. But yeah, if you're looking for a pink ink, you can't go wrong with Diamine Coral.

Following are the two samples on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

Diamine Coral on photocopy

Diamine Coral on Clairefontaine

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Parker Quink Blue Black ink review

Parker is a consecrated name in the fountain pen world but it's the first time I'm testing an ink from this brand, and I'm kicking it off with Parker Quink "Permanent" Blue Black. You'll find the reasons for the quotes shortly.

Saying that Parker doesn't have a wide range of inks is a bit of an understatement. Currently it seems that it only sells 3: a black and two blues. I bought a sample of Blue Black a long time ago - and its time to be tested finally came. I loaded it in my Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib and eyedropper conversion.

Parker Quink Blue Black shading with Kaweco

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 60 ml / 2 oz
Price: $10.30
Price / ml: $0.17

Color and saturation

The "Blue Black" in the name is somewhat of a misnomer, because this ink veers more towards turquoise than black. Depending on the light, you can catch faint hints of green in it. It's not very saturated or vibrant, being rather dull. It also changes color as it dries. Wet, it looks more like a true blue, but once it dries it acquires the green/turquoise tint. I don't know why they call it "Blue Black" either, unless the "black" refers to its dullness.

I made a comparison with 3 other blue inks: Private Reserve Invincible Aqua Blue, Waterman Florida Blue, and J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean. As you can see, the Waterman and J Herbin inks are the "truest" blues of the bunch, while the PR ink is most similar to Parker Blue Black, but even PR Aqua Blue is more neutral than the Parker ink.

Parker Quink Blue Black vs PR Invincible Aqua Blue vs Waterman Florida Blue vs J Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean

Shading

Parker Quink Blue Black has a little shading going on, thankfully. It's not much, but a broad nib will bring it out, as will a wide stroke with a q-tip.

Parker Quink Blue Black shading

In the right light you might even notice some sheen, which is always nice to have, but probably won't be evident in normal use.

Feathering

None.

Bleedthrough

Insignificant.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

I'm pleased that Parker Quink Blue Black flows very well, perhaps a bit wet. It runs nicely in the Kaweco.

Drying time

The drying time is lengthy on Clairefontaine 90g paper, but I think the broad nib is at fault here. It's much quicker on cheap copy paper.

Smearing when dry

None.

Water resistance

Here's the thing. Parker Quink Permanent Blue Black has the word "permanent" in its full name. That would imply at least a modicum of water resistance. Even the official specs say that it is water resistant. If so, why did it perform a lot worse in my water resistance test than Diamine Prussian Blue, an ink which is definitely not water resistant? This ink has no water resistance whatsoever, I'm sorry to say.

Conclusion

I'm afraid that I can't recommend Parker Quink Permanent Blue Black because there's nothing that makes it better than other blue inks. I suppose you could go for it if you're adamant about using Parker inks in Parker fountain pens but even then there are much better options and besides, this thing about using the same brand of pen and ink is mostly myth. The color doesn't sing to me either, although, to be fair, it has some decent shading in the right light. It also looks to me like Parker is doing some false advertising (unless my sample was from a bad batch) in regards to the water resistance of this ink. Final verdict: thumbs down.

Here are the two sample on photocopy paper and Clairefontaine 90g, respectively.

Parker Quink Blue Black on photocopy

Parker Quink Blue Black on Clairefontaine

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fountain pen for sale - Sep 2014

Silver Lamy AL-Star with EF nib, Z24 converter, and 1.1mm, 1.5mm, 1.9mm italic nibs - SOLD!


Clearing shop folks. My latest pen to go is my beloved Lamy AL-Star. I love this pen but, once again, it hasn't been getting much use since I got my Pilot Vanishing Point. So I'm selling it to fund future purchases.



My silver Lamy AL-Star comes with:

  • EF nib (black)
  • Z24 converter
  • 1.1mm italic nib
  • 1.5mm italic nib
  • 1.9mm italic nib


I am selling everything as a package because I don't feel like listing each nib separately and then charging for shipping individually (or worse, swallowing the shipping cost myself).

Read my review of the AL-Starhow I fixed the EF nib (which didn't write well out of the box), and how the italic nibs write. Also read up on how to completely disassemble the Z24 converter.

The EF nib writes smoothly after my fix, with just the tiniest hint of tooth. It's likely you won't even notice, and in addition it flows impeccably with any ink. The italic nibs wrote beautifully from the start.

The AL-Star itself is almost blemish free. If you put it under a magnifying glass you might notice a few tiny scuff lines from handling, but I took good care of it and it only left my home desk a couple of times.

Price for the whole package: $60 shipped (Paypal only)

Here's how the price breaks down for a new pen:
Lamy AL-Star: $37
Z24 converter: $5
3 x italic nibs: $13 x 3 = $39
Shipping: $5+
Total: $86

This is for the US only, sorry! If you can figure out a way for me to send this cheaply internationally, I'm open to suggestions. You will have to pay the full price of shipping and I'll still charge you $60 for the pen though.

I accept payment through Paypal only. Please send full amount. I believe you will have to use the "gift" option.
Pens are sold as-is. I've described them to the best of my ability. I'm not offering any warranty, and once money is exchanged and the package has shipped, no returns either.

If you are interested, please contact me via the email listed on the About/Contact page, and I'll supply you with a Paypal address to send the money.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Diamine Prussian Blue ink review

Slowly but surely I am moving into the less voted-for inks in my ink sample survey. This time it's Diamine Prussian Blue and I loaded it into my Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib and eyedropper conversion.

Diamine Prussian Blue shading

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 80 ml / 2.7 oz
Price: $12.95
Price / ml: $0.16

Color and saturation

Diamine Prussian Blue is, well, a blue ink. However, the saturation is so low that it can be easily mistaken for a grey. Essentially it's a very dull and subdued slate blue, which is just fine with me. You might not like it ink at first, or at all. It didn't "sing" to me the first couple of days I used it, but then it started to grow on me.

Prussian Blue's muted tone actually makes a lot of sense in a formal environment, such as an office. Is it the best ink for official documents? Perhaps not, based on how light it is. But for less official papers it's pretty good, and the color is not the only thing that helps.

Diamine Prussian Blue shading

So what exactly is "Prussian Blue"? Interestingly, it's one of the first modern pigments. Does the ink resemble its namesake? I would say yes, allowing for differences in saturation.

Below I tried to compare Prussian Blue with two other muted inks I tested in the past, Noodler's Polar Blue (forgive the mistake in the photo) and Private Reserve Invincible Aqua Blue, though the three aren't very similar.

Diamine Prussian Blue vs Noodler's Polar Blue vs PR Invincible Aqua Blue

Shading

You might be forgiven to think that Diamine Prussian Blue doesn't shade. Light inks don't always feature a lot of variation and it's almost the case here. However, this ink does have a little bit of shading, probably made more discernible by the broad nib.

Diamine Prussian Blue shading

Feathering

No.

Bleedthrough

Being a light-colored and de-saturated ink, Prussian Blue doesn't bleed, even on cheap paper.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

One very pleasant trait that Diamine Prussian Blue manifests is how easily and smoothly it flows in the Kaweco. It doesn't gush, and it has a very measured flow, yet it's wet enough (around a 6.5-7/10) that it satisfies my requirements.

Drying time

On cheap paper it dries almost instantly, but on Clairefontaine 90g (a thick, glossy, high quality paper) it is more stubborn and might require up to 30 seconds to dry completely with the broad nib.

Smearing when dry

A resolute no!

Water resistance

Color me surprised, but Diamine Prussian Blue is more resistant to water than it lets on. No where is it advertised as being water resistant but my standard test by which I let water run on a sample for 30s - 1m clearly shows that the ink remains perfectly legible. Granted, the top layer has washed off but what remains is more than enough.

Conclusion

While the slate-blue / blue-grey of Diamine Prussian Blue might not appeal to everyone, I would give it a try if I were looking for a more formal shade of blue. It could grow on you too. It's a very well-behaved ink which flows smoothly, has just enough shading to make it interesting, and on top of everything, plays well with water.

Here are the two samples on photocopy, and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

Diamine Prussian Blue on photocopy

Diamine Prussian Blue on Clairefontaine

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Diamine Red Dragon ink review

Looks like I'm caught in a vicious circle of red and burgundy ink reviews, because it's time for yet another red ink: Diamine Red Dragon. This is easily the darkest red I've tested, to the point where it could just as well be classified under burgundy, but since it has "red" in the name, this is what I will call it.

I reviewed Diamine Red Dragon in my trusty Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib.

Diamine Red Dragon shading

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 80 ml / 2.7 oz
Price: $12.95
Price / ml: $0.16

Color and saturation

As I already mentioned, Diamine Red Dragon is a very dark red ink, so dark in fact that if I were to put it under the Burgundy category, no one would bat an eyelid. As such, it is also highly saturated. To an extent, it resembles thick, coagulated blood. Or, if you will, dried dragon's blood.

To give you a better idea, I compared it with 2 other similar inks, Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses and J Herbin 1670 Rough Hematite.

Diamine Red Dragon vs Noodler's BSER vs 1670 Rouge Hematite

Shading

Because it's so dark Diamine Red Dragon doesn't have a lot of shading. Now, some people will say that it does, and I guess if you used a brush instead of a nib, and peered really hard, you would find a little color variation. Actually, you can see that on the Clairefontaine sample shown at the bottom. But for all practical purposes, when used in a fountain pen, even one with a broad nib, there isn't any shading to speak of.

Diamine Red Dragon handwriting

Feathering

Diamine Red Dragon feathers a little on cheap paper, with the broad nib. No such thing happens on Clairefontaine 90g.

Bleedthrough

Considering the darkness and saturation of this ink, it was expected that it would at least ghost on cheap paper. That it does, though it doesn't outright bleed through. There's no ghosting on Clairefontaine.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Diamine Red Dragon is very smooth - when it flows. I'm not sure exactly what happened to cause this, but in the Pilot Vanishing Point the flow was very inconsistent. At times it would stop entirely, and cause the nib to skip. I had to press the nib hard to the point of flexing, before it would start again. The Pilot VP has been a wonderful writer with other inks so it makes me wonder whether Red Dragon has some weird property that causes this. To make it flow properly, I had to resort to twisting the piston converter. But this made the ink flow a lot darker, for a while at least, until it would slow down again, becoming lighter in color.

I'm really puzzled as to why this is happening, especially considering that it is a fairly wet ink - when it behaves.

Drying time

Drying times were pretty long on both cheap and good quality paper, but that's partly due to the broad nib, as well as the wetness of the ink.

Smearing when dry

Unfortunately there's a lot of smearing going on, under certain conditions. First, Diamine Red Dragon is a slow drier. It takes its sweet time before you can turn that page, but this happens on Clairefontaine 90g. Second, you must leave it at least 24 hours before you can touch the text, or else it will smear. Even then, portions of the text where more ink has pooled will smear. It's not as bad as Diamine Syrah though.

Water resistance

There's no water resistance at all.

Conclusion

Diamine Red Dragon is a really cool looking dark red ink with a cool name and ordinary properties. I would really recommend it, with the caveat that it might (or might not) have some flow issues, and it might also smear if you are using it on good paper. If you are looking for a neutral, "true" red, this is not it, but if you want something outside the mainstream, perhaps trending towards burgundy/brown, you might want to take a look at Diamine Red Dragon.

Here are the two samples, on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g, respectively.

Diamine Red Dragon on photocopy

Diamine Red Dragon on Clairefontaine