A look at Lamy’s inter-changeable nibs

One of the great things about Lamy Safaris (and there are many great things about them!), is that it’s very easy to swap the nibs if you’re unsatisfied with the one you’re using (please don’t do what Terri did over at Filofax Fixations.  Follow Lamy’s instructions!  Otherwise, it’s possible to destroy the feed…).  Lamy offer the following inter-changeable nibs for the Safari and Vista:

  • EF (Extra Fine)
  • F (Fine)
  • M (Medium)
  • B (Broad)
  • LH (Left-Handed)
  • Calligraphy nib – 1.1mm
  • Calligraphy nib – 1.5mm
  • Calligraphy nib – 1.9mm

I don’t use calligraphy nibs, so I cannot discuss these nibs here.  However, there are many bloggers on the web who do calligraphy, and I’m sure if you ask them nicely they might do a review for you (Clement over at Rants of the Archer does beautiful calligraphy reviews)!

I currently own the EF, F, M, B and LH nibs (I’m left-handed), and I thought it would be interesting to demonstrate them together.

This writing sample was written on Clairefontaine Triomphe paper, and all the writing is done with J. Herbin’s Perle Noire, so only the nibs are different.  To give you an idea of scale, the line of the B nib is almost 1mm wide.  Below shows you the show-through from the writing sample.  As this is very good quality paper, there is no bleed-through, but it gives you an idea of how heavy the pen lines are.

My personal favourite is the EF nib.  The EF nib on the Lamy flows well and the line is crisp and clean.  I’m very impressed that there’s an actual difference between the EF nib and the F nib – I must admit that I was a bit doubtful when I bought the EF nib, as I wondered how much finer they could write, but you can see in the sample above that the F nib lays a darker line than the EF nib.

My second favourite nib is the F nib, as you’ve probably guessed by now.  Usually I have this nib inked with Bleu Nuit (as demonstrated in my 2012 winter pen choices post), so it was a change writing with black for this test.

Having now experienced the joy that is the EF nib and the F nib, I was a bit disappointed to use the M nib again.  This is the nib that you get as standard with a Lamy unless you order otherwise.  It is a good nib, and I have quite a few of them, but the line seems really thick and heavy now!  Still, if you don’t know what sort of nib you’d like, this is a safe bet to get you started with fountain pens.  You won’t have any problems with it, and if you’re unfamiliar with fountain pens it will help you get comfortable with them.

I bought the B nib with the aquamarine Lamy last year, as I’d never used a broad nib before (side note: I love the photos I took in the aquamarine Lamy link I’ve just shared!).  At that stage, I wasn’t sure whether I was an F nib girl or a M/B nib girl, so I bought one to try.  I do love the heavy line this nib lays down – it’s really good for any pale inks you have as it helps make them stand out.  However, for everyday writing use, I definitely prefer the EF and F nibs with a dark ink.

Finally, the LH nib.  I find this nib a bit pointless.  Obviously they manufactured it for left-handed people, but to what end?  I don’t hook my hand as I write, like a lot of left-handed people, as I was taught to hold a pen like most right-handed people do.  I thus rarely have a problem with smudging my writing as I go.  Even if I did have a problem with smudging, this nib wouldn’t stop that as the ink is still wet when it comes out of the nib.  I’ve never had a problem with ink flow from a pen as a result of being left-handed, although I know this is sometimes a problem as a result of left-handed people ‘pushing’ rather than ‘pulling’ the nib across the page.  Is the nib meant to correct for that?  If so, as I say, I’ve never had a problem with flow in any Lamy nibs so it’s irrelevant to me.  The nib itself writes smoothly, although as it happens there is something not-quite-normal about it, and I do prefer the M nib over it (it’s hard to describe, but the ‘balance’ and the way it touches the page don’t feel normal.  This might all be in my head, but there you go).  The line is equivalent to the M nib.  Personally, unless you’re experiencing problems with fountain pens and you’re left-handed, I wouldn’t bother trying this nib.

This is very much a personal review, and so I guess if you’re reading this it’s difficult for you to decide what nib you might like to try next!  I would recommend the EF and F nib, but if you don’t like fine lines then you won’t like them!  Look at the pens you already own so that you can get an idea of what type of pen nib thickness you like, and decide from that.  Lamy nibs are quite cheap though, as you only buy the nib itself and not the whole feed, so you can always buy a different style at a later date if you change your mind!

I get my Lamy nibs from Pen to Paper online and The Paperie.  Pen to Paper don’t list the nibs online, but they’re an actual shop in Brighton so you can ring them up and purchase over the phone.  Cult Pens also stock Lamy nibs.  I’ve never used them, but many bloggers love them.  For those outside of Europe, JetPens stock the nibs (they deliver worldwide and have good service).

  • http://franklyvic.blogspot.com Vic

    At the moment I only use a fountain pen for calligraphy, it was a gift so I’m not really sure what the make of the pen is. The nib is italic though – its crazy wide! I’ve been thinking for a long time about getting a decent fountain pen for when I’m writing ‘properly’ – i.e. not taking lecture notes! I don’t know whether a better quality nib would help but I found that the nib got scratchy as I was writing so fast!
    Seriously considering investing in a Lamy, my stepfather swears by them!

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  • http://euicho.com Thomas


    I ran across your website looking for line-thickness of the LH nib (which I own) versus the EF nib. I realize this is quite an old post but I appreciated the writing sample.

    I too am disappointed in the LH nib, but only because of the thickness. I am a left-handed under-writer (turn the page clockwise) so I don’t smudge, but I still push as my pen is angled with the nib closer to the right of the page than the top of the pen. Sort of like a forward-slash: \

    The real reason for the LH nib is for pushers like me, because traditional nibs are more likely to snag or cut into the page slightly. The LH nib is ground at an oblique angle to prevent this. It works very well, and although I don’t have major issues with other pens, it is the smoothest nib I have. I really dislike thick lines though, so I rarely use it. It just lays down too much in for my taste. I think I’ll be buying an EF nib to replace it. You can get nibs custom ground, or even grind them yourself if you’re brave, so I may give that a try.

  • Sabrina

    Thank you for this comparison of the Lamy nibs!
    I have a Lamy Logo back from my days at school, and wanted to use it again. It had a M nib and I didn’t like the broad lines. So I bought a F nib, which wasn’t much better. I almost put the pen back into the box where it slept the last 20 years, but then I discovered your comparison and ordered an EF nib. Now I love to write with my Lamy again!