Have you ever put something down for years—whether it’s a pen, notebook, or something else entirely—only to pick it up later and think “what’ve I been doing with my time, that I would leave this sitting for so long?” Well, this week I had that experience with this pen, the Lamy Studio. This model is the “Ruby Red” limited edition with a 14K extra-fine nib that I picked up a few years back on the FPGeeks Classifieds section for $90. That, my friends, was a steal. The standard Lamy Studio with a stainless steel nib is a fixture on my “Top Pens under $75” list, but Lamy’s 14K nibs deserve more attention.
Build and Finish
This pen has a nice design. It’s manufactured from what I assume is aluminum, with a smooth stainless steel section. If you dislike metal sections, you will probably find this pen slippery and difficult to grasp. Personally, I like the section on this particular pen because the weight of the metal section offsets the cap when posted, giving the pen a nice balance while writing. The cap posts securely, with an audible "click" that lets you know the cap is firmly attached.
My criticism of this pen is with the red matte finish. Namely, I'm extremely disappointed that in several very noticeable places, the red finish is rubbing off the pen. The worst wear is under the clip where it touches the cap, but there are also some problem spots where the cap joins the body. I’ve included pictures of both. I don't like to see this kind of quality control issue in a pen at this price point, especially where the pen hasn’t been carried all that much. The wear under the clip is inexcusable, and strikes me as something Lamy should have foreseen.
A couple things to note before you consider buying: the Studio is a cartridge/converter pen, and takes proprietary Lamy Cartridges. Also, the Lamy Studio takes a different converter, the Z26 Piston, than the Lamy Safari and the Lamy AL-Star, which take the Z24 Piston. Lamy cartridges and converters are durable and have decent ink capacity. No complaints here.
The lack of durability—and, dare I say it, poor quality—of the finish on this pen caused me to come close to selling it multiple times. (I believe one time I actually listed it, but got no takers.) Over the past several months, I've been consciously paring down my pen collection to what I consider a more manageable number, and during that process this pen came up again. Out of curiosity, I inked it up, and despite the beat-to-heck look of the thing, I can’t see myself parting with this pen. The 14K nib is that good.
When most people think of Lamy's gold nibs, they think of the Lamy 2000, another personal favorite of mine. Lamy's "standard" 14K nibs are often--and, in my opinion, unjustifiably--overlooked. The extra-fine nib on my Lamy Studio is relatively wide for an extra-fine nib, and writes more like a “fine” from most other brands. The nib is, however, springy and smooth. It’s also slightly stubbish, in that it offers a touch of line variation and gives my writing an italic look and feel. To me, Lamy’s interchangeable stainless steel nibs offer good quality and exceptional value in entry-level pens, but this 14K gold nib has frankly blown me away. At around $150, both the Lamy 2000 and the Studio make great options for a “first gold-nibbed pen,” though I must say, I prefer the Studio’s extra-fine to the extra-fine on my Lamy 2000. I suspect it’s because the lack of a hood on the Studio gives the nib the additional springiness, making it very pleasant to write with.
The Lamy Studio is definitely a legitimate player in the relatively sparse "best-fountain-pen-under-$75" product category, if you're looking for a reliable, comfortable writer that looks more "professional" than a Safari or an AL-Star. If you're up for spending a bit more money, I would recommend going for the gold nib. Setting aside the aesthetic issues with the finish for a moment, this is one of the best-writing pens I own.
While I’ve not seen it in person, pictures of the current “Wild Rubin” special edition Lamy Studio look similar to the Ruby Red, except the Wild Rubin has a glossy, red lacquer finish. (I suspect that the red lacquer finish is MUCH more durable than the matte finish on the Ruby Red, so I’d advise you to buy the newer pen rather than track down a Ruby Red on the secondary market.) Pen Chalet currently sells the Wild Rubin with a stainless steel nib) for $79, and Goulet Pens still has 14K version in stock at $164. Goulet sells the 14K version as part of a set that comes with a Z26 converter and a bottle of Lamy Blue ink.
I put together a short walkthrough video with the Lamy Studio Ruby Red. Let me know what you think and if this sort of thing is helpful. If it is, I will consider additional videos for future reviews.
DISCLAIMER: This post contains some affiliate links, through which I may be compensated a small amount if you purchase a pen from certain sites linked to in this article. While I’d greatly appreciate it if you use these links to purchase a pen you are interested in, you are, of course, under no obligation to do so. Many thanks!