Friday, February 17, 2017

LAMY STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW

Lamy Studio fountain pen review
The Lamy Studio is can be seen as a possible 'next step' for the pen enthousiast that outgrew the Lamy Safari, or for those that just want to expand their collection. It's a pen that is actually seriously underrated in my opinion, since it's one of the most flexible products in the Lamy catalog, with varying finishes at different price points, it offers something for everyone.
Lamy Studio fountain pen review
The Studio is a simple flattop pen, no bells and whistles for the most part... Apart from one distinct design feature: the unique 'propeller-style' twisted clip. It's a simple but beautiful aesthetic detail that defines the entire pen. Apart from looking good, the clip also functions quite well. It ends in a nicely rounded circular shape, which makes it easy to clip onto something.

Right next to the clip, you can find a small laser-engraved logo. Lamy's minimal branding (apart from that on the Safari and Al-Star) is something I always enjoy seeing. It's very unobtrusive, and I actually like the way it looks, in contrast to some pens where I think the branding disturbs the design.
Lamy Studio fountain pen review
At 14cm closed, and 12.6cm open, the Studio falls in the standard size range. The weight of the pen varies slightly depending on what version you get. The entry-level brushed steel version weighs only 25 grams total, other versions come in slightly higher at 31 grams. It's a decent standard sized pen that can be used comfortably without posting. The finial on the back of the barrel has a slight ridge, which allows for the cap to be posted securely, although I personally find it shifts the balance a bit too much towards the back.
Lamy Studio fountain pen review
L to R: TWSBI Eco, Pilot Vanishing Point, Lamy Studio, Lamy safari, Lamy 2000
Lamy Studio fountain pen review
I personally find this one of the most comfortable pens Lamy makes, apart from maybe the macrolon 2000. But experiences regarding comfort vary quite wildly if you read different reviews. It all depends on one thing: the grip section!

Depending on the model, you can either get a rubberised grip (brushed steel version), a glossy chrome grip, or a matte palladium grip on the palladium version. In most cases you'll end up with a glossy chrome grip. The other two offer a decent grip and are really comfortable (long, nicely shaped, very small step from section to barrel), but the chrome version can be a dealbreaker. I honestly don't understand why they would want to make so many different sections...
Lamy Studio fountain pen review
L to R: rubberised section, glossy chrome section, palladium section
With this in mind, I'd personally recommend getting the cheapest version, the brushed steel. The rubberised section is comfortable and grippy, and it's actually the most affordable option. It's a bit unfortunate that they don't offer the rubberised grips on all the colors and finishes, so you'll have to take it into account when you're making a choice. 

On to the nib. Here you'll also find some differences, depending on which finish and color you choose. The brushed steel, matte black and imperial blue finishes all come with steel nibs, but the palladium and Platinium versions come standard with a 14k gold nib. Again, these configurations are as-is, so you can't get a blue version with a gold nib, or a palladium version with a steel one, but you can buy nibs separately and swap them out yourself. 
Lamy Studio fountain pen review
The nibs, both steel and gold, are excellent writers. I'm a fan of Lamy nibs -let's make that clear-, they write consistent and smooth, and they are usually well-tuned. The gold nibs have a slight edge in my opinion, because they have a little softness to them, which gives some bounce when you write (don't expect much line variation though!).

As I said in the beginning of this review, the Lamy Studio is a pen with a lot of potential. Prices start at 47.5 EUR (71.2 USD) for the brushed steel version, and go up from there. For the Palladium version with gold nib, you'll pay around 170 EUR/ 160 USD. The Platinium version, which is quite hard to find, sits somewhere in the 200+ range. In such a wide price range, you'll easily find something that suits you most.
Lamy Studio fountain pen review

Sunday, February 12, 2017

ABOUT BIAS AND OPINIONS

Do you trust me?

Going off of the things I have read on social media and forums recently, there seems to be a trust issue developing. Which is really unfortunate because we definitely don't write blogs to start arguments or to tell lies (at least in our pen community that's not the case). In this post I'd like to talk about biased reviews, and how it inevitably correlates to personal preferences. I think this is a bit of a grey zone among pen bloggers, where everyone has an opinion, but nobody has a satisfying answer to all the questions that exist about it.

The stir is based around this: Some bloggers -me included- receive items for free from shops and brands. We review them as we would other items, or don't we? A lot of readers express the uncertainty they feel when they read our reviews: 'are those bloggers telling the truth about that product?' Or are we biased? Are we liars?

Personal opinion and preference

Well, the answer isn't as easy as you might think. Some people don't seem to understand that bloggers are just normal people too. Just like anybody else, we have preferences and we know what we like and don't like. It's inevitable that those preferences become a part of the reviews we write.

We -I'm speaking for myself here, but I think it applies to other bloggers as well- try to give you the objective, hard facts about a product, but these facts are combined with personal opinions to make for an enjoyable review. A completely objective review doesn't exist with pens, or it would have to be a useless and boring specs list and nothing more.

Pens, especially fountain pens, are a very personal experience. For example: I like oversized pens, broad, smooth, springy nibs and a rich ink flow, but you might like the exact opposite. So if I say I like a certain pen, but you buy it and end up hating it, does that mean that I lied? No of course I didn't, but I did express my personal preference and told you how I enjoy that specific product, and in the end it turned out that our preferences differ. In fact, if you'd look at someone's blog as a whole, it's basically one big expression of his or her preferences, and that's not something you can work around, it's part of who we are as a person.

Bias

This brings us back to bias. Bias follows from those personal preferences. We're even biased down to which products we choose to review or not. I won't pick a product that I know I won't like, I don't feel like giving a product a bad review because it's not for me, after all it would probably just leave a wrong impression anyway.

'What about those free products you receive, aren't you inclined to give it a better review than products you bought?' Well first of all, completely off-topic: let me point out that -especially for me as a student- receiving products to review is a neccesary evil. If it wasn't for the brands and shops that choose to support me, I would've run out of products to write about after the first few months. I'm not rich, so I can't just buy everything I want, but I do want to provide interesting and up to date reviews, so there really isn't much of an option there.

To get to the point, are the reviews we write influenced by receiving the products for free? You have to believe me when I say that I try very hard not to be affected by this. But it isn't easy, and I honestly can't promise that I never write something a little nicer than I maybe should've. Again those preferences come into play: if I'm a fan of a certain brand, I might sometimes be a little easier on it than I would with other brands.

I personally try to avoid unconsciously getting trapped in bias by following a certain mindset: I'm a fairly friendly guy (I think at least) and I try to always look for the best in a product. I don't feel the need to completely bash a product because one aspect about it wasn't good. After all, a negative review will also be based on personal opinion. I try to look at as many different aspects of a product while summing up pro's and con's and putting them in the right perspective. This way you can decide for yourself wether or not the product would be something you'd like.

To conclude

I hope I've made my point that it's pretty much impossible to completely avoid bias in reviews, just because people will always have a personal opinion. But there are solutions that could help. The best advice I can give is to always stay sceptical! If you're reading a review to see wether or not you should buy a certain pen, think for yourself: 'Does that pen look comfortable?, from the experience the blogger wrote down, does it sound like it would be something you'd enjoy?' If you think a certain blogger has a different taste and opinion than you, maybe look for other reviews by other bloggers, and compare them to form a more generalised idea. If you read five different reviews and they all say the same thing, it's probably trustworthy (but even then your mileage may vary, it's not an exact science!).

I hope I gave some insight about how I think about all this, and perhaps it helps to clarify how reviews should be interpreted, and what you should and shouldn't expect from me, but also other bloggers. If only there would be a way to write reviews that everyone will agree with, but unfortunately that doesn't exist.

To follow up on the matter of personal opinion, I have updated my about page, at the bottom of the page you can find a link to an article where I specify my personal tastes and preferences for pens, paper and inks. This should be able to help you decide wether or not my personal preferences will differ from yours, I hope it helps!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

BEHIND THE SCENES

A late introduction

I've been holding off on this for, well ever since I started this blog. I didn't see the need to put myself out there. In fact I started this blog with the idea of keeping it entirely anonymous. 

So here I am! My name is Dries, and if you want to read more about me, go check out the 'about' page. I updated it a bit, and even added a goofy picture (yeah that's me over there on the right!). You know, just to show that it's not just some computer algorithm running this website. 

Over the years I came to understand that a big part of the pen community is the personal interaction, making new friends. Writing reviews is the core business, but besides that there's a lot of interaction going on. Maybe you just want a friendly chat, or maybe you have an issue or a question about pens. I've learned A LOT from other bloggers, and I'm eager to share the little I know with others. 

As part of that social interaction, I started being a more active member on the Facebook FPN page. I feel like it's a good way to come in touch with (potential) readers of the blog, but it can also be a way to get in touch with me. Same goes for other social media like Twitter or Instagram. Especially the latter is definitely one I try to be very active on. Instagram offers a nice and casual way to show what I'm working on for the blog, and the pen community is very well-represented on it, with a bunch of great people to follow and interact with, definitely worth checking out if you haven't already!

But then comes the biggest challenge. You might say 'OK we know your name now, and we know what you look like, but we don't REALLY KNOW you', and that's absolutely right! Now of course I'm not going to start rambling about my personal life too much, or what I do besides playing with pens and writing this blog (apart from studying chemistry, not much, should you ask). But there are certain things I could tell that would be relevant to the blog, and how you - as a reader- experience it. I'm talking about how I got into this hobby, what my personal preferences are, what I use, why and how, etc...

Especially personal preference is a topic I'd like to touch on in one of my next posts, because there's a lot of discussion about blogger bias, and the objectiveness of reviews, and I think it should be adressed to help resolve the issue and to create a transparent community where you -as a reader- know what to expect from a blog.

So there you have it, I guess this was more of a state of the union than it is an introduction... But at least you'll know where to find me if you want to! Feel free to contact me if you have questions or remarks, you can check my contact page or all the above mentioned social media platforms to get in touch.

Thanks for reading!
Dries