Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Product Review: Pilot Prera

The Pilot Prera: just as good as its cousin, the Metropolitan, but much lighter.
For the past few months, my Pilot Metropolitans have become my sketching pens of choice (unless I want a variable line effect, in which case, I reach for my Sailors). Their consistently and reliably smooth nibs and stellar performance even after being idle for weeks at a time have made them replace most of the Lamys in my sketch bag. Their $15 price tag certainly doesn’t hurt, either.

The only characteristic of the Metropolitan that doesn’t appeal to me is its significantly heavier weight. At 26 grams (according to GouletPens.com), the brass-bodied Metro is 9 grams heavier than the resin Lamy Safari that I find so comfortable to sketch with (though I’ve become disenchanted with the Lamy’s unreliable nib). I started poking around at other inexpensive Pilot pens, and I saw that the resin Prera weighs in at 15 grams – even less than the Safari. I decided it would be worth a try.

Goulet doesn’t carry the chartreuse green one I’d seen elsewhere, so I kept looking and found one on Amazon through vendor Santa Trading Japan for less than $30. (With free shipping, it arrived from Japan in less than two weeks.) I’ve been sketching with it for a couple of weeks, and the nib is performing exactly like the Metro’s (though it looks a little different): very smooth and consistently reliable. What’s more, it’s a perfectly comfortable light weight – both for sketching with and carrying around in my bag.

Nib comparison: Lamy F and Prera M
Since I’ve been using Metropolitans with an M nib (the only size available, apparently), I’ve gotten used to the size, which I find sufficiently fine. so although the Prera is available with an F nib, I opted for an M. Japanese nib sizing is so much smaller than European sizing that I’d say the Pilot M is equivalent to (or even slightly finer than) a Lamy F. 

One quality about the Prera that simple delights me is extremely idiosyncratic: the tactile snap when replacing the cap. One reviewer described this feeling/sound as similar to the experience of closing the door of an expensive car, and I have to say I agree. It’s as if it glides into place rather than snaps. (Whoooaa, that’s a lot to say about a less-than-$30 pen! I’ll try not to get giddy.)
3/25/14 Hello Kitty Pez dispenser sketched
with Pilot Prera using Pilot Iroshizuku
Tsuki-yo ink.

I haven’t yet tested the Prera for idle time, but given how well both the Metro and the Petit1 tested on this aspect, I’m confident that the Prera will perform just as well.

With performance as excellent as the Metropolitan yet with a lighter weight (and a high-end-car-door cap snap to boot), what’s not to love about the Prera? (Hmmm. . . I might have to get another one, like a brown one, which is a difficult color to find in inexpensive fountain pens.)

Sorry, Lamy . . . these Pilot bad boys are going to kick the rest of you out of my bag. But it’s not as if I’ve rejected Lamys completely from my life. They are still very good writing pens – I keep several inked up in a rainbow of (nearly) color-coded ink colors (see below) for use at my desk – it’s just that sketching demands a more rigorous set of performance criteria than writing, at least for me. For example, at home, when all I’m doing is jotting in my journal or making a shopping list, it’s OK if I have to scribble several loops to get the ink flowing. But out in the field, I like to be able to begin a sketch with the first pen stroke. And for that, I’m happily counting on the Pilots.
My rainbow of Lamy pens containing color-coded inks,
now relegated to staying home.


  1. Looks like a nice pen!!! I followed the link and Goulet has them for much more than you paid...or was I looking at some special one they were showing? lol

  2. Interesting discovery. I always like your reviews. Yes, Joan. These pens do seem to be $56 at Goulet.

  3. The 'buy direct' from the orient is a pricing problem for North American distributors, but it sure provides opportunities for consumers. Personally I prefer the transparent Preras. Wish I'd known you were shopping for a lime green one; I would have sold you mine :-) The transparent ones are a bit more pricey but they come with the converter.

    Agree with your feeling about that click :-) Maybe silly but it's kind of special. The balance of these pens when posted is much better than Lamys as well. I carry three of them everywhere I go.

    Cheers --- Larry


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