by Mike Shea on 20 February 2010
While I've been a huge fan of the Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen for many years, I have now switched completely over to the Sakura Pigma Micron needle-tip pen as my favorite daily writing instrument. It doesn't skip, doesn't bleed across pages, uses high quality archival ink, works well for sketching and writing, is low cost, you can buy them at Amazon, and is perfect for my Moleskine notebook. It's my new favorite pen of choice and I highly recommend it.
For the past five years or so I've never been anywhere without my trusty Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen. It was a constant companion of mine, a piece worthy of conversation, and a fine bit of engineering. Recently, however, in my goal to simplify my life, I've retired the Vanishing Point to my cup o' fountain pens and switched to something new.
I've been taking a drawing class for the past year or so and in this class I've become a huge fan of pen sketching. I much prefer it to the more popular pencil sketching. It just feels more permanent, more committed. In my quest for nice sketching pens, I came across the Sakura Micron sketching pen and I picked up a range of sizes. I used it for sketching, but soon I found myself using it for note-taking as well. For a test, I put aside the Vanishing Point and began using the Sakura Micron for a week. That week became two, than four, than three months, and now here I am. The Vanishing Point has been retired and my new carry-around pen is the Sakura Micron 01.
I'm pretty demanding on pens so it takes quite a bit of engineering for me to permanently switch to this pen. Let me take a moment to go over why this has become my new favorite pen.
There are quite a few ways this pen is superior to the vanishing point in practicality. First, it's cheap. You can pick them up for around $3 a pen. There are piles of colors and sizes but my preference is the 01 black which has a .25 mm nib. You can pick these up on Amazon.com for about $2 to $3 a pop in bulk.
The ink in the Pigma Micron is very high quality. They have paid a lot of attention to ensure the ink is stable, acid free, archival quality, light fast, and waterproof. The ink doesn't bleed over between pages in my Moleskine like my Vanishing Point used to do. With the Vanishing Point I had to keep a blotter page in between the pages of the notebook. Not anymore. This is the best pen I've used in a Moleskine notebook.
I've never heard of a needle tip pen before, and I really don't know how the tip works in the Pigma Micron. It's not a ballpoint or a rollerball or a felt tip. It's something else. All I know is that every time I've used it, it produces a smooth steady line without ever skipping. This was a big problem with the rollerball pens I've used like the Uniball Signo 207 and the Pilot G2. Because it never skips or seems to gum up, I've been using the same pen pretty heavily for a couple of months. It lasts a very long time for the $3 you might spend on it. It also feels great in my hand.
It's not perfect, however. First, it's not that easy to get. You can pick it up at art supply stores but I wasn't able to find it at a Staples. If your particular about the size and color, as I am, you'll likely have to order a bunch of them online.
Second, it's not pretty. The tan plastic tube is very utilitarian and certainly won't have the style that a good fountain pen would have. This is a pen for people who want to write and draw, not those who want something pretty.
The cap is sort of a pain in the ass. It's not bad, as caps go, but I miss being able to pull out a pen and begin writing one-handed as I can with a Vanishing Point or a Uniball Signo 207.
Still, these minor quips aside, the Sakura Pigma Micron is the best pen I've used. It has very few drawbacks and a lot of advantages including a much easier $3 price, the best ink I've seen in the best vehicle to lay it down on paper. It's my new favorite pen and I highly recommend it.