Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Noodler's Shah's Rose ink review

A review of Noodler's Shah's Rose has been a long time coming. This is one of the first inks I had heard of when the fountain pen craze first struck, around 2011. By now, everyone and their grandma has reviewed Noodler's Shah's Rose. Perhaps because of that, I didn't feel a lot of pressure to review the sample I bought some time ago. Now its time has come.

Noodler's Shah's Rose shading with Kaweco

I reviewed Noodler's Shah's Rose in my Kaweco Sport Classic with eyedropper conversion.

Bottle and pricing

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

Color and saturation

Noodler's Shah's Rose is a magenta/rose/pink/red ink. There's a little bit of each of those words in it. It is vibrant and saturated, and strongly reminds me of roses, which makes the name very apt. At the same time, it's also a dark pink, depending how you choose to look at it.

In the photocopy sample (at the bottom of the review) I compared Shah's Rose to two of the red inks I own: Noodler's Nikita and J Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite. I'm kind of comparing apples to oranges here but I just wanted to illustrate how this ink compares to neutral red.

A more apt comparison is the one below, where I'm pitting Shah's Rose against two other pink inks: Diamine Cerise and Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk.

Noodler's Shah's Rose vs Diamine Cerise vs R&K Fernambuk

In this case you'll notice how Shah's Rose is the darkest of the three, while Cerise is brighter, and Fernambuk is the least saturated, as well as duller. Shah's Rose also seems to have better shading than the other two.

Shading

Noodler's Shah's Rose features some decent color variation. While not as pronounced as other inks, it's definitely there so if you want to experience that, you'll be better served by a thicker/broad nib.

Noodler's Shah's Rose shading

Feathering

No.

Bleedthrough

No, but there's a little ghosting on cheap paper due to the high saturation.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Noodler's Shah's Rose flows very smoothly in my Kaweco Sport. It feels just right, falling perhaps a little on the wet side.

Drying time

It dries quickly on cheap paper but on Clairefontaine it takes its sweet time. As you can see from the sample, depending how thick the line is, it can take 30 seconds or so for it to dry completely.

Smearing when dry

No.

Water resistance

Interestingly, Shah's Rose is not meant to be water resistant but it can stand up to water just as well. You'll notice in the sample below that exposing it to 1 minute under running water washed only a little bit away, while most of it remained perfectly legible.

Conclusion

Noodler's Shah's Rose remains the quintessential magenta ink for those who love the color. It is overall a well behaving ink, with no weaknesses that I can discern. It even features a little bonus water resistance. Personally I'm not very fond of magenta/pink inks so I wouldn't buy a bottle but I still think it's a beautiful color, and I highly recommend it.

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

Noodler's Shah's Rose on photocopy

Noodler's Shah's Rose on Clairefontaine

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Private Reserve Invincible Black ink review

Private Reserve Invincible Black is one of those inks that seem to have vanished from the market between the time when I bought the sample and now, when I finally got the chance to review it. It's quite a shame since waterproof inks (which it is) are not in every manufacturer's portfolio. Outside of Noodler's, not many brands seem to care about this segment. Unfortunately it seems that PR has sent its Invincible inks (along with PR Invincible Aqua Blue which I fancied) along the way of the dodo.

Read the review for curiosity or nostalgia sake but I'm not sure where you'd find this ink if you wanted it.

Private Reserve Invincible Black with Pilot VP

I reviewed the sample in my Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib.

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: unknown
Price: unknown
Price / ml: unknown

Color and saturation

Private Reserve Invincible Black is, well, black. A very dark black in fact. Side by side with Noodler's Heart of Darkness it looks even darker.

I also compared it with Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia, just for reference, even though the latter isn't technically black.

Private Reserve Invincible Black vs Noodler's HOD vs Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia

Shading

Private Reserve Invincible Black is black as the night and thus pretty much flat.

Feathering

None.

Bleedthrough

PR Invincible Black bleeds less than I would have expected, even on cheap paper. There's evidently some ghosting but even that comes more from the contrast between the very dark ink and thin white paper than from actual penetration.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Invincible Black flows nicely and smoothly in the Pilot Vanishing Point with the broad nib unit. However, I have noticed that it likes to dry up rather quickly in the pen, within a few hours. This makes for hard starts and it's definitely not a feature I appreciate, especially in my most expensive pen.

Drying time

Here's the rub. Umm, pun not intended, but you'll see... Private Reserve Invincible Black dries reasonably fast on cheap paper and even the shinier and more expensive stuff like the Clairefontaine 90g sample. Keep reading...

Smearing when dry

Following up on the previous section, this ink is quite prone to smudging when rubbed. So even though it is technically dry, it needs a lot more time to become inert, and even then you can still get it to smear a little if you rub it hard.

Water resistance

As advertised, Private Reserve Invincible Black is completely water resistant and immune to the elements (not sure about acid rain though).

Conclusion

This review might have been all for nothing, considering Private Reserve Invincible Black has been discontinued, but it was interesting, nonetheless, to see how it behaves in relation to other waterproof inks. Overall it's a decently performing ink, with two exceptions: the drying up inside the pen and the fact that it likes to stain containers, including the Pilot VP's converter. Since it's extinct, if you are looking for a black water resistant ink my only option is to recommend one of many such variations that Noodler's makes, including Heart of Darkness and another black ink that I will review soon.

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

Private Reserve Invincible Black on photocopy

Private Reserve Invincible Black on Clairefontaine

Monday, April 27, 2015

J Herbin Bleu Azur ink review

My ink sample supply is dwindling fast and I found myself scraping the bottom of the barrel as I reached for the vial of J Herbin Bleu Azur. For a while now I've been reviewing the inks that I thought would be the most interesting, so what's left are, naturally, the runts of the litter. Well, ok, that sounds a little harsh, though maybe not in this particular case.

I popped the sample of J Herbin Bleu Azur in my Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib and eyedropper conversion and away I went...

J Herbin Bleu Azur with Kaweco

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 30 ml / 1 oz
Price: $11
Price / ml: $0.37

Quick note here. J Herbin bottles are small and cost a pretty penny, as you can see. Generally the inks are double the cost of brands such as Noodler's and Diamine, and I'm sorry to say that I don't find the value in some of them.

Color and saturation

Here's where J Herbin Bleu Azur fails right off the bat for me. It is an extremely light and watery shade of baby blue, with very, very low saturation. I don't see how this ink can be used in day-to-day writing, and I'm sure that the thinner the nib the more faded it looks.

In the photocopy sample (at the end of the review) I compared it to Noodler's Navajo Turquoise, even though these two inks have nothing in common, but it's the closest ink I had a bottle of. Notice how much darker Navajo Turquoise is.

A much better comparison is the one just below. Put J Herbin Bleu Azur next to two other light colored blue/turquoise inks, Private Reserve Daphne Blue and J Herbin Diabolo Menthe, and you'll see how Bleu Azur is still lighter than both. And I didn't even like Diabolo Menthe back when I reviewed it, for similar reasons.

J Herbin Bleu Azur vs Private Reserve Daphne Blue vs J Herbin Diabolo Menthe

In fairness, some people have seen some success with using Bleu Azur as a highlighter ink. I can almost see how that might work.

Shading

As much as I'd like to bash J Herbin Bleu Azur even more than I already have, I will admit that it has a little shading, though insignificant, and unlikely to show unless using a thicker nib or perhaps employing it for highlighter duty.

Feathering

No

Bleedthrough

No. It's too light to show through and it has basically zero penetration power.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

I can't say I was impressed by how J Herbin Bleu Azur flowed. Watery inks sometimes feel - paradoxically - dry, as is the case here. As a result, it wasn't much pleasure to write with.

Drying time

As expected, drying times were quite short, even on Clairefontaine 90g paper.

Smearing when dry

None.

Water resistance

Water resistance, as can be seen in the photocopy sample below, is nil, perhaps even negative. Totally expected though, so I won't knock any points off for this.

Conclusion

What more is there to say about J Herbin Bleu Azur that I haven't already? I'm afraid there's nothing here that would make me recommend this ink, unless you're heavily into highlighting stuff in light baby blue. Even if you love such a light, faded blue, you might find better success, at a much lower price, by diluting another blue ink with water. Caveat emptor.

Epilogue

I don't usually do an epilogue to my reviews. In fact this is the first epilogue ever.
Being dissatisfied with J Herbin Bleu Azur, I thought I might improve it by mixing it with another ink. So I added a couple of drops of Noodler's Nikita and hoped for the best. It's usually not advisable to mix different inks in this manner so it wasn't much of a surprise that the result was yet another watery and vile concoction, of the violet persuasion. It proved worse than the original ink and I ended up dumping the whole thing in the sink. Thus I didn't get to use Bleu Azur in the real world, outside the confines of this review. Good riddance.

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

J Herbin Bleu Azur on photocopy

J Herbin Bleu Azur on Clairefontaine

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Private Reserve Daphne Blue ink review

I haven't reviewed a bright blue ink in, like, forever, so I was almost taken aback to realize that I actually had some Private Reserve Daphne Blue among my samples. Here it goes then: PR Daphne Blue reviewed in the Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib and eyedropper conversion.

Private Reserve Daphne Blue shading

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 66 ml / 2.2 oz
Price: $11
Price / ml: $0.17

Color and saturation

Private Reserve tries to be cute with the name "Daphne Blue" and I'd say it succeeds because this ink is light blue, bright and cheerful as a warm summer day. You could just as easily call it cerulean/sky blue, or baby blue. Or a light shade of turquoise. It fits all these descriptions.

Private Reserve Daphne Blue shading

To get an even better idea, here it is next to two similar inks: J Herbin Diabolo Menthe and Noodler's Navajo Turquoise.

Private Reserve Daphne Blue vs J Herbin Diabolo Menthe vs Noodler's Navajo Turquoise

What's immediately obvious from this comparison is that Diabolo Menthe leans towards green, while Navajo Turquoise is a darker shade of turquoise than Daphne Blue.

Shading

Whenever an ink shows color variation I'm a happy camper. Light inks sometimes don't do that, but Daphne Blue shades nicely. Of course, the broad nib brings this better into perspective.

Private Reserve Daphne Blue text

Feathering

I haven't noticed any.

Bleedthrough

No, although a broad nib on cheap, spongy paper tends to at least produce some ghosting. Luckily this is pretty well controlled in this case due to the lightness of the ink.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

While it flows very well in the Kaweco, I noticed a tiny amount of dryness, but it's hard to pinpoint. I could chalk it to "measured flow" and I wouldn't be half wrong. So it flows very satisfactorily and it's smooth to boot.

Drying time

Nothing out of the ordinary here. As expected, it takes its sweet time on good paper, up to 30 seconds or so (especially with the broad nib). On cheap paper it dries in a few seconds.

Smearing when dry

None.

Water resistance

Water resistance is exactly as I was expecting, despite knowing nothing about this ink prior to testing it. It's non-existent. You can see from the bottom (copy paper) sample how it reacted to only 30 seconds under water.

Conclusion

Private Reserve Daphne Blue has all the markings of a great ink, provided you're on board with the baby blue color. It's very well behaved on all fronts, with the exception of water resistance but that wasn't an advertised feature in any case. If you like turquoise inks, there's nothing that would prevent me from recommending it, with the caveat that it might be a bit light for certain uses. Otherwise, a solid ink.

Private Reserve Daphne Blue shading

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

Private Reserve Daphne Blue on photocopy

Private Reserve Daphne Blue on Clairefontaine

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon (V-Mail) ink review

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon is one of those inks that I wanted to test for a while and its time has finally come. Two things attracted me to this ink: the exotic name, and the color burgundy. It is also a V-Mail ink, resembling vintage inks to some extent. Along with this label, water resistance comes standard but this will be discussed in more detail below.

I tested a sample of Mandalay Maroon in my Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib.

Bottle and pricing

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

Color and saturation

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon is a burgundy/maroon/reddish-brown ink with average saturation. It bears a passing resemblance to other inks I have tested but for the most part it has a unique color.

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon detail

Below, I compared it to a few other burgundy inks: Diamine Syrah, Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses, and Sailor Jentle Grenade. I believe you'll agree with me when I say that Mandalay Maroon is the least attractive ink in this lineup.

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon vs Syrah vs BSER vs Jentle Grenade

Shading

Sadly, Mandalay Maroon is completely flat, without any kind of shading or color variation. This is clearly evident from the 4-ink comparison above.

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon detail

Feathering

I'll admit I was a bit surprised that Mandalay Maroon doesn't feather even on cheap paper. For some reason I was expecting it to, especially since it really likes to seep into the paper. It's one of those deeply penetrating inks, similar to what you might find in alcohol-based markers.

Bleedthrough

Bleeding is high on cheap paper, to the extent that the reverse side will be mostly unusable. The situation on Clairefontaine 90g is improved but there's plenty of ghosting and even bleeding where the nib presses hard. This, of course, is based on my tests done with a broad nib. If you want to use this ink I'd recommend a medium nib or thinner. I'm sure those won't produce the same sort of bleeding.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

One thing that Noodler's Mandalay Maroon has going for itself is that it feels very smooth and flows well through the Pilot VP's broad nib. It's also pretty wet, which is probably what causes the bleed through.

Drying time

You would expect a wet ink in a broad nib to take ages to dry on good paper such as the Clairefontaine I used for one of the tests. Once again I was surprised by how quickly it dried. 5 seconds on this paper is incredible. This is easily explained by what I mentioned previously: this ink penetrates the paper like a drop of water on a dry sponge.

Smearing when dry

None.

Water resistance

Water resistance is one of the main features of Noodler's Mandalay Maroon. It didn't disappoint in my standard water test whereupon I held the sample under flowing water for 1 minute. OK, it wasn't completely watertight, and a tiny little bit of pink dye can be seen spreading out like capillaries from the edges of the lines, but the text and drawings remain perfectly intact.

Conclusion

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon is a quirky ink, quite interesting in some aspects (water resistance and drying speed) but dull in others (color/shading and bleed). To my eye it is not very attractive, especially in comparison to other burgundy inks. As such, I wouldn't buy a whole bottle but I know that lots of folks love it, so if Mandalay Maroon catches your fancy don't be detracted by my purely subjective opinion.

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon detail

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

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon on photocopy

Noodler's Mandalay Maroon on Clairefontaine

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Diamine Pumpkin ink review

Diamine Pumpkin is yet another orange ink from Diamine. How does it measure up to other orange inks? Does it shade? Is it worth picking up? Why Pumpkin over other inks? Pumpkins in March? All these, and more, will be answered shortly.

But first, a short reminder that I tested this ink in my Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib and eyedropper conversion.

Diamine Pumpkin shading with Kaweco

Bottle and pricing

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

Color and saturation

Diamine Pumpkin is, once again, an orange ink. It is bright and very saturated, though not the cheeriest of oranges. It's not a pure orange, as Diamine Orange is (see comparison in the copy paper writing sample at the bottom), but a bit dirty. It's very pumpkinish in fact, and I find the name very appropriate for once.

Diamine Pumpkin shading

To get a better idea of the exact shade of orange Pumpkin exhibits, I'm illustrating this via a comparison with a couple of other orange inks I've tested: Sailor Jentle Apricot and Noodler's Dragon's Napalm (as well as Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki in the photocopy paper sample at the bottom).

Diamine Pumpkin vs Sailor Jentle Apricot vs Noodler's Dragon's Napalm

When placed side by side like this I actually find Pumpkin to be more fiery and expressive than both these inks, though each is beautiful in its own way.

Shading

Some inks are completely flat, as is the case with Diamine Orange, but Diamine Pumpkin is not. It shades very nicely, and that gives it a lot more character than its purer sibling. It's very easy to obtain darker patches of fiery orange and almost-red on top of lighter shades of orange. In writing, the shading is obviously more easily discerned with a broad nib, as is the case here.

Diamine Pumpkin shading

Feathering

None.

Bleedthrough

None.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

I can't complain here: Diamine Pumpkin flows very well in the Kaweco Sport and is appropriately wet. It's not the wettest ink out there and your experience may certainly differ if you are using a medium nib or thinner.

Drying time

On cheap paper (photocopy), Diamine Pumpkin dries almost instantly, but this time is considerably lengthened on Clairefontaine 90g, dependent, of course, on the nib. I'm assuming it would take less than 30 seconds to dry with a thinner nib.

Smearing when dry

None

Water resistance

Diamine Pumpkin is not water resistant but after being exposed for 1 minute to running water some faint traces remain. This component seems to be pink in color.

Conclusion

I am suitably impressed by Diamine Pumpkin. I was expecting this to be a plain ol' orange ink but it has more character than more reputable inks (whether that reputation is well-earned or not). What I like most about Diamine Pumpkin is that it's not just a generic orange, but instead has that "dirty" look (while staying bright and saturated) which gives so much justice to its name. And then the beautiful shading only helps to make it better. I would urge you to try Diamine Pumpkin. If you like orange inks, I'm betting you'll love it too.

Diamine Pumpkin shading

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

Diamine Pumpkin on photocopy

Diamine Pumpkin on Clairefontaine

Monday, February 9, 2015

Diamine Evergreen ink review

Diamine Evergreen is one of the more special greens that have passed through my hands in recent memory. I tested the sample in my Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib. I can tell you right away that I like this ink but read on to find out more details.

Diamine Evergreen shading with Kaweco

Bottle and pricing

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

Color and saturation

Right off the bat, Diamine Evergreen starts strong with an interesting and rather unique shade of green. I have tested plenty of green inks but I can still be surprised. I'm of the opinion that Diamine Evergreen should have been called Diamine Avocado because that's exactly the shade of green - avocado - that comes to mind. It is dark, organic, and not too saturated, making it well suited for official use.

In the photocopy sample (at the bottom) I compared Evergreen to Diamine Green Black and De Atramentis Black Green, both of which I own a bottle, and both of which are also dark, somber inks. There is some resemblance between these three inks but Diamine Evergreen immediately stands out as - at the risk of repeating myself - the more organic of the bunch, and that imparts it more character in my opinion.

I've also done a comparison with Noodler's Green and Noodler's Marine Green, two of the darker inks I've tested but these are both more saturated as well as brighter and they don't resemble Evergreen much.

Diamine Evergreen vs Noodler's Green vs Noodler's Marine Green

Shading

Diamine Evergreen does a great job in the color variation department. The broad nib helps with that, but I have a feeling medium and even fine nibs will exhibit plenty of shading. In addition to the shading, if you look closely you will see an almost reddish sheen in the dark sections where the ink had a chance to dry in a thicker layer.

Diamine Evergreen shading

Diamine Evergreen shading

Feathering

None.

Bleedthrough

As expected, there's a little ghosting on very cheap paper but otherwise there's no bleeding and both sides of the paper can be used without fear.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Diamine Evergreen is a wet ink. It flows really well through the Kaweco Sport. At times it feels a little too wet. If the paper is particularly spongy, it soaks right into it. For me that's fine because I love wet inks, but if you don't, you could always try it in a pen with a dry nib or one that has flow issues.

Drying time

On absorbent paper it dries within normal parameters, around 10 seconds or so, but on glossy paper it can take up to 30 seconds. Fairly average drying times for how wet it is.

Smearing when dry

None.

Water resistance

Diamine Evergreen is not meant to be water resistant but when I put it under running water for 1 minute it didn't wash off completely, so I guess you might stand a chance to recover some of your writings if they get drenched in water.

Conclusion

It looks like I started 2015 on a positive ink-reviewing note because I really like Diamine Evergreen. From the exquisite color to the great shading, to the wet flow, there's much to like about it and nothing really to critique. As such, I highly recommend Diamine Evergreen, especially if you are looking to emulate the appearance of "avocado".

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

Diamine Evergreen on photocopy

Diamine Evergreen on Clairefontaine