Monday, 25 May 2015

Double Review: Schneider iD Fountain Pen / Lamy Vista


(Top: Lamy Vista, Bottom: Schneider iD Fountain Pen")

I have wanted to do a review of the Lamy Vista ("the Vista") for a very long time. Chronologically, it was the second pen that I've ever owned/used (the first being the Waterman Hemisphere). It was a valentine's day gift from my wife and it has a sentimental message engraved into its barrel. 

You can therefore expect that my review of the Vista will be a tad bit biased (read that with a healthy dose of sarcasm). 

Why? Not just because it was a gift, but more so because it became my personal gateway-drug into the world of fountain pens. I liked the way it wrote and that convinced me that fountain pens were the most superior writing instrument, and that therefore fountain pens were the only writing instrument that I would ever want to use from then on. The Vista has therefore set me down the very expensive and obsessive journey of fountain pen collecting. 

I also thought it appropriate to do a double review of a very recent addition to my collection, the Schneider iD Fountain Pen ("the iD"), this is because  both pens are:

(i) German-made, 

 (very similar steel nibs)
(ii) have steel nibs,

(the Vista has angular grooves on both sides, while the iD only has it on one side)

(iii) have ergonomic grips/grooves carved into the grip section of the pens, and

(iv) both are what I would consider very good entry level fountain pens for the recently initiated.

(1) Schneider iD Fountain Pen

(1)(a) How and Where I Got it:

Overjoyed was having a sale the week before Mother's day, so I headed down to get my wife a present (I ended up getting her a TWSBI Mini) and while I was there I also picked up the iD for myself.

I got the iD because it came with a Broad nib, and I had been wanting to get a Broad nibbed pen for awhile now, simply because I didn't have one in my collection up till then.

It normally costs S$28.90 but because of the sale, I received an additional 20% off and paid only about S$23 for it (great value for money!). Given how comfortable this pen feels in my hands and how well it writes, even if I had gotten the iD at its full retail price, I would still consider it a great-value-for-money fountain pen!

There is a dual-sided iD rollerball/highlighter version as well (aptly named "iD Duo"), see link here (which also costs S$28.90).

(Finally, a quick shout-out and thanks to the staff at Overjoyed, they were extremely helpful and friendly! And I must say that Overjoyed is VERY well-stocked with Fountain Pen and Art supplies!)

(1)(b) Impressions / Aesthetics:

I would describe this pen as a "chunky" pen. It feels big and is therefore easier to grasp between your fingers. Plus the iD has a rubberised grip which is soft and comfortable to hold. There is also a groove on one side of its grip section (comes in both "right handed" and "left handed" versions) which helps you position the pen when you grasp it so that the nib point always hits the paper at its "sweet-spot" (i.e. making sure the writing experience is smooth and without any skipping).

The cap comes with a peculiar metallic loop sticking out of it. I assume its so that you can attach it to a lanyard, wear it around your neck, and have it at your disposal at all times. The cap snaps on tight and I don't foresee any problems for people who want to use it with a lanyard.

The barrel of the pen is also translucent black, it allows you to see the cartridge you may have in the barrel, but not the actual ink level that's left in the cartridge itself.

(1)(c) Feed / Nib (Writing Experience):

("B" engraved onto the left side of the nib)

As mentioned, the nib is a nice juicy "broad". There is a "B" engraved onto the side of the steel nib.

The iD also accepts standard international cartridges and converters and according to Archer's Rantings' Blog, the iD can be converted into an eyedropper pen with no trouble and leakage issues (I personally have not tried to do so). In Archer's Rantings' Blog, the author was also able remove the nib and feed from the grip section, which will make cleaning a lot easier once I figure out how to do so too.

Also, you may want to check out Ordinal's blog post with a review of the iD here.

Overall, I have absolutely no qualms with the writing performance of this pen, in fact I was pleasantly surprised with how well it wrote. Being a broad nib, I of course expected the writing to be very wet and I like how succulent the line that the iD lays down; all done with ease and without any skipping. I must say too that the rubberised and ergonomic grip makes this pen extremely comfortable to use, even over long periods of time.

If you note the picture of the writing sample above, I noted that according to the iD's description on the overjoyed page, it came with a cartridge of Schneider's Royal Blue Erasable ink. However, I was unable to "erase" what I'd wrote even after trying vigorously with a rubber eraser. Unless I am doing it wrong, I am not quite sure if the ink truly is "erasable".

(2) Lamy Vista:

Firstly, I wish to state that the Lamy Vista, the Lamy Safari and the Lamy Al-Star are more or less the same fountain pens (I have tried all, and the writing experience does not differ at all, except with the Al-Star being perceptibly heavier and feeling more rigid given that its barrel and cap are made entirely of metal).

In reality, the Vista is the clear demonstrator version, the Safari being the coloured plastic versions and the Al-Star being the aluminium versions of the same pen design. However, as I've discovered, some websites simply list the Lamy Vista as being a "Clear Plastic / Transparent" Safari.

(2)(a) How and Where I Got it:

From the official Lamy boutique in Orchard 313 shopping centre. Believe it cost my wife about S$50.00 (with a free engraving service). I subsequently purchased the Z24 Lamy converter from Evergreen Bookshop (Raffles One branch) for S$8.00.

(2)(b) Impressions / Aesthetics:

I personally love clear demonstrator fountain pens, and I simply love the way the red end of the converter looks in the clear plastic barrel.

The only thing that kind of irks me is the 2 slots that have been cut out of the barrel (see picture above). I would understand the need for the 2 slots on the Lamy Safari (as mentioned earlier) due to the fact that the Safaris have opaque coloured-plastic barrels and therefore having an ink window is crucial and convenient. However, on the clear demonstrator Vista, the 2 slots seem rather pointless to me and simply prevents the Vista from becoming an eyedropper pen (which I would love!).

Note: that there are people who have successfully converted their Vistas into eyedroppers. See Analog Dog's blog here. Basically, it is possible to swap out your Fountain Pen Vista's barrel for that of the Rollerball Vista's Barrel (which does not have the ink window slits cut out of the barrel) and thereafter applying some epoxy / sealant to the end of the barrel (where there is a tiny air hole). I personally do not know where in Singapore I'd be able to get my hands on a spare Vista Rollerball barrel and at this juncture, I would not want to spend anymore money on my Vista, unless I want to risk it becoming a S$100+ fountain pen (as I foresee having to buy another Vista Rollerball just for its barrel).

The Vista also uses Lamy's proprietary cartridge / converter systems, which Stationery Traffic has expressed great disdain over (because the tapered end of a Lamy cartridge traps ink and makes it very difficult to clean / swap inks). I noted too Stationery Traffic's dislike (or rather his "hatred") for the Safaris, as he's had scratchy writing experiences with almost all the nibs / Safaris he's purchased.

(2)(c) Feed / Nib (Writing Experience):

That being said, there is ALOT of praise for the Lamy Vista / Safari / Al-Star online. Many enjoy the way the pen writes and have made the Vista / Safari / Al-Star their everyday carry pens ("EDC Pens"). A lot has also been said with how easily the Lamy nibs are interchangeable (similar to the Platinum Preppy, you simply slide the steel nibs on and off the black plastic feed section).

Check out StrangeKnight's very detailed review of the Vista here

For me personally, I like the way my Vista writes. I do not have trouble holding the triangular grooves on the grip section and I find the Vista a pleasure to write with even during long writing sessions (I once wrote 20 pages non-stop at a break-neck-pace while at work and I had absolutely no problems whatsoever). 

(3) Final Thoughts / Combined Conclusion:

I think both pens make great introductory fountain pens for someone who is just starting to appreciate using and collecting them.

I don't think it would be fair to compare the writing experience of the Vista and the iD given that one is a medium nib and the other is a broad nib respectively. In summation, I will just say that both pens write smoothly and that I like the way both pens perform; there are no starting issues or skipping during mid-writing.

Overall, I think it all boils down to the price at this stage.

If you are able to get the iD from Overjoyed during a sale (which I hear is about to happen again very soon) then I think paying S$23 for an eyedropper convertible pen is extremely good value for money. Whereas, I think paying about S$60 (Vista & an additional Converter) of course would make a lot less sense in comparison.


  1. Thank you for this review. Very nice!
    It goes a long way to show that less pricey FPs can and do perform outside of their price points.

    1. Hey dodo, thanks so much for your kind words.

      Yes, as you may be able to tell, I am a firm believer in the fact that a good fountain pen need not be expensive, in order for it to give the user joy and pleasure when writing.

      As you so astutely mentioned, I find often that my cheaper fountain pens actually deliver surprisingly smooth and pleasant writing experiences!

  2. Hey, great review. I would like to add to your knowledge, you can actually fill the ink right into the translucent barrel of the Schneider. I, of course, have no way to confirm whether this was the company's original intention ; but it works splendidly, I haven't experienced any leakage problem, whatsoever. I am no t sure whether you have experienced/observed this.