Mab Graves is one of my favourite artists. When she posts work in progress on Instagram often there’s a bright yellow mechanical pencil in the photo; a 0.3 mm Alvin Draft/Matic. I love pens with tiny points, so I recently got myself a “Mab” pencil, and for comparison also a 0.3 Pentel Graphgear 500.
Today another three arrived in the mail. Here they all are:
- Alvin Draft/Matic:
- Reasonably heavy.
- Nice colour.
- Some might find the grip too textured.
- Pentel Graphgear 500:
- Nice pointiness; gives a good view of whatever one is writing/drawing.
- Uni Shift:
- Beautiful design.
- The heaviest of the bunch.
- Retractable: I can pop it in my bag and be sure the lead sleeve won’t be damaged.
- Uni Kuru Toga:
- Rotates the lead every time you lift the pencil from the paper, to give a finer and more uniform line. I don’t think my pencil is rotating as much as it should be, judging by this video. It does feel a bit scratchy though, which is a sign it’s working somewhat, and which also makes me think I prefer the lo-tech version where I rotate the pencil in my hand at my own leisure. Note, the mechanism will have a more noticeable effect with thicker lead.
- Very lightweight.
- Pentel Orenz 0.2 mm:
- The tiniest lead size available in a mechanical pencil, to my knowledge. The tip of the lead sleeve is rounded and is meant to glide across the paper and get pushed back as the lead gets shorter.
- The line is ever so slightly thinner than 0.3 mm but it feels a bit scratchy. At first I thought it was the lead sleeve, but I think it’s the thin lead itself that does it. This is on regular Moleskine notebook paper.
- I have big lady hands, but I like the feel of the slender grip.
- The lead sleeve does retract but cannot be locked in place like on the Uni Shift.
- 10 g: Uni Kuru Toga
- 11 g: Pentel Orenz
- 15 g: Pentel Graphgear 500
- 17 g: Alvin Draft/Matic
- 19 g: Uni Shift
Weight distribution, for those who are interested:
Conclusion: In spite of my love for tiny points, I will go for a heavy 0.3 mm pencil over these 0.2 mm and rotating lead pencils. The difference in line width is not very noticeable, and also I have a huge crush on the silver/blue Uni Shift. Shown in this photo with the point out; in the main photo it is retracted and exposes a section of lovely blue.