Thursday, April 06, 2006

Faber-Castell E-Motion Mechanical Pencil Review


Since I started this blog, the Faber-Castell E-Motion has come up a number of times in comments and emails. I have been aware of the E-motion for a long time, but never actually had one, so I decided it was time to change that. At exactly this time, one miraculously appeared in the display cabinet at a local bookstore, so now I own one.

The E-motion comes in a variety of materials and finishes – wood, metal, plastic, animal stripes, etc. Mine is one of the original more traditional variants, the stained maplewood barrel with black plastic end pieces. This is a nice looking pencil; the colours, materials and contoured shape blend well together. The wood finish is smooth, but not highly polished or lacquered so it’s actually a little rough for my personal preference.

It’s a minor point, but the wood barrel on mine isn’t quite round at the front so the black plastic front piece doesn’t quite match the diameter all the way around and in places there is a little lip where they join together.

The pocket clip is very nice indeed, a spring loaded wave design. There is a good size eraser under the end piece, and it erases quite well. Overall this pencil is a little bit lighter than its short sturdy appearance would suggest.

The E-Motion is a screw mechanism mechanical pencil, which is a little unusual these days. You wind the top plastic end piece around to advance or retract the lead. It’s a really smooth mechanism. That’s “Mmmmmm, twisty, smooo-ooth” as Homer would say.

My pencil came in a nice little presentation tin, but there was no documentation at all. I had no idea how to change the lead. The Faber-Castell international website wasn’t much help, but the US site is full of information. Thank goodness for all those US lawyers making sure product information is properly available! Like most screw mechanisms, replacing the lead is a little bit complicated compared to standard ratchet mechanisms where you just simply put more leads into the tube. Spare leads are housed inside the front end-piece and you unscrew it to get them and replace the lead.

The leads themselves are a rather unusual 1.4mm thickness. Very nice smooth dark writing, but this size does mean you are stuck with Faber-Castell for refills, there’s no shopping around. The 1.4mm is bit of a problem for me. It’s just too thick for my everyday office work. I generally use 0.5 or 0.7, and stretch to 1.18 when its Yard-O-Led time, but 1.4 just seems to cross some “thickness threshold”. A lot of my work is on computer print outs and other documents in 6 or 8 point font so 1.4mm is massive compared to them. It’s almost a bit too thick for my general everyday writing to, but to be fair I have spent most of my life thinking 0.7 was a fat line.
So, at the end of the day, I like the E-Motion, but until it’s available in a 0.7 or 0.9mm lead I will keep reaching for my Lamy Scribble.
  • Best Points – The screw mechanism and the wave pocket clip.
  • Not So Good Points – The 1.4mm lead thickness.
  • Price Range – Mid.

Dimensions – Length 125mm, diameter 14mm at widest point. Balance point about 70mm up from the tip.

33 comments:

Dorai said...

Yes, the 1.4mm width is rather wilfully idiosyncratic. 1.3mm would have been better, as 1.3mm leads are almost as easily available as .9, .7 and .5mm -- thanks to Pentel, which offers the inexpensive 1.3mm Fiesta. Speaking of leads being too fat, I haven't found 1.3mm to be too bad. They write and sketch well, and despite their fatness don't need to be "sharpened" (like 2mm leadholder leads do), although I can imagine that they just won't do for very fine filigree work. Furthermore, fatter leads let you write longer between consecutive clicks, and that's nice. .5mm lead pencils, I've found, demand a click almost every line. That, rather than the alleged susceptibility to breakage, is what keeps me off the .5mm.

kiwi-d said...

Arrrrgh!!!!:) Why!!!!:)lol
Not content with sending me off on a "noisy lead" investigation you now set me the challenge of investigating how lead thickness influences life expectancy. I'm going to blame you when my wife gets annoyed at me for all the time I'm spending on this pencil blog:)
My initial thought is that lead life is not strongly related to small changes in diameter - you shear off a layer of lead of equal depth irrespective of the leads diameter? But there are going to be a lot of things to look at. So, in a couple of months or years I'll get back to you.

Yes, I have no problem with 0.5mm breaking, I like the "alleged" term - I'm going to steal that. But I do accept that lots (most)of people do find 0.5 and even 0.7 to weak.

vegreville said...

I'm a leftie and so only 0.5 really works for me.

I received the E-Motion as a gift, and kind of liked it, although my hand was all smudgey after I used the pencil. And I never did figure out how to change the leads, so I gave up.

Dorai said...

Oh, blame away. I don't at all mind being an antipodal scapegoat. It makes me feel both useful and safe. :-)

kiwi-d said...

Reader "Steve" has pointed out to me that I shouldn't list the 1.4mm lead thickness as a "Not So Good Point" because its a feature of the pencil. I think he's right so my "Not So Good Point" should really be that the 1.4mm lead is only available from Faber-Castell, and that it doesn't come in other more common lead options like 0.7.

Jon said...

I bought mine from a local bookstore years ago. I think I dropped it or just played around with the clip often - the top portion of the pen snapped! I just realized that the plastic they used was not that strong. And for the price I paid... wasn't worth it. Since then, I tried using superglue. It'll work for awhile but would come off again. It is when you try to write/sketch - the lead goes in and pushes the top off.

deacon129 said...

I agree that the 1.4mm leads are too thick for most writing, but I find them to be absolutely wonderful for underlining in books and articles. I much prefer them to highlighters and I can write in a few comments as necessary as well. That's all I use it for, and I feel lost without it when I read. They're worth it for this alone!

Henrik Neble said...

I admit, that 1.4 mm width is a bit "smartness" from Faber Castell, but I really don't mind, since the line is so smooth and black - the design, and the feel so good.
Besides I sometimes sharpen it with a sharpener for 2 mm. clutchpencils/leadholders or an ordinary sharpener. And it works fine for me.
Henrik

kiwi-d said...

Sharpening it with a 2mm lead pointer, now thats something I hadn't actually thought of. Good idea.

njyo said...

Thanks for the good review Dave. What I actually wonder about is the eraser. I'm currently using a Faber-Castell Grip Plus and I love the eraser. It's one of the few usable mechanical pencil erasor that I know (I don't like the looks of the Tornado 51).

What I wonder is if the E-Motion has a similar great screwable and wide eraser or more of a classical, whacky small erasor at the end?

Thanks.

kiwi-d said...

How on earth did I write this review and not mention the eraser? Shocking!
Unfortunately its nothing flash. Its a mid size fixed eraser under the end cap. Similar in size to one on the end of most wodden pencils - about 7mm diameter X 5mm usable length. Its a plastic compound.

njyo said...

Thanks for the erasor info!

Do you know if there is any nice (like in elegant) pencil with a good, big eraser like the Grip Plus in the class of the E-Motion, Scribble or Tornado 51 Retro? Thanks again for the advice.

kiwi-d said...

Nyjo - well nothing leaps to mind. Sorry.

I hate writing comments like this because in a little while I'll probably remember something, or someone else will suggest a pencil I've got, etc and I'll look stupid yet again. But I'm getting used to it!

elmomax said...

LOL so how do I change the lead on the E-motion.... any suggestions please?

thanks

kiwi-d said...

Refill instructions are on the Faber-Castell USA website, undeer FAQ's, Refill Instructions.

http://www.faber-castell.us/bausteine.net/file/showfile.aspx?downdaid=6656&sp=E&domid=1010&fd=2

Derek said...

Well, I'm late finding this, but I have used the e-motion for over 10 years (maybe close to 12? I think this name came along sometime after I started using it) and absolutely love it. It is the one pencil lead I have broken only by dropping the pencil. My only wish was that there were more than one kind of lead available in refills. At the very least, HB in addition to B, to cut down on smudges.

kiwi-d said...

Hi Derek. Yes the special lead size does limit your choices. One can only asume it is F-C's way of locking in lead refill purchases.

Anonymous said...

If the 1.4mm B lead is not suitable how about going for 1.3mm HB from Pentel or Staedtler? As an idea look at the Staedtler graphite 771 http://www.staedtler.co.uk/graphite_771_eng.Staedtler. I have one, are happy with it, like the triangular barrel, has twist eraser as well. If you get a chance please consider to do a review. Great site thanks - From Kiwi Chris in Switzerland.

Anonymous said...

I bought the lamy scribble but was disappointed in the feel. I was thinking on buying the Faber Castle pencil talked about here but I i'll pass. In my opinion, the best darn pencil I have ever used is the Paper Mate Sharp Writer. A truly amazing product. The spring mechanism really absorbs a lot of the stress and sharpening it as you write for that extra razor feel is just a matter of tilting it at an angle and scribbling a line back and forth until one side wears down. It is like sharpening a knife on a cutting stone.
Wow.

Anonymous said...

I like really liked the thicker lead. The only thing that bothered me was that when I put the lead to the paper, it retracted some. Then when I lifted the pencil from the paper, the lead came back out about the same amount. Kind of like a spring action. To me, when you put lead to paper it shouldn't push the lead back in at all. I don't know if this is a flaw in the one that I received or if this is a feature of the pencil. Anyone else have that happening?

Penmaniacs said...

I fianlly bought myself one of these and have to say i am impressed. The mechanism is smooth, the eraser isnt tiny but the lead is impossible to find at office stores.

great review
penmania is back!

Anonymous said...

I had to share my joy in receiving my eMotion pencil today and am thrilled with it. I got one in yellow plastic for $10 on eBay over a month ago and loved it so started watching the auctions for a wooden one. Most are sold by dealers at a fixed price, but I got mine from an individual in an auction for the bargain price of $18.27 & $4 shipping for pearwood with matte-chrome end pieces. It is mint. It came in the box which originally held 3 writing instruments: pencil-ballpen-multifunction plus booklet which does show how to access eraser and change lead. I like writing with something about .9 to 1.0 best and this slightly thicker lead really suits me. Smooth action and unlike anonymous, my lead holds firm in both eMotions.

Kiwi-d said...

Glad you liked it.

Steve said...

The Lamy ABC childs pencil has recently been released as a 1.4mm (as well as 3.15mm) also the Stabilo EasyErgo has also been released as a 1.4mm variant (that too is also originally 3.15mm)

So there are another couple of different options for finding lead refills

I would imagine as there is now becoming more manufacturers adopting the 1.4mm size, we may well see some 3rd party manufacturers selling the 1.4mm size

Steve said...

From what I have found so far, the Lamy ABC Refills are available in a B
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/LAMY-PENCIL-M44-1-4MM-LEAD-2-PIECES-SET-ABC-PENCIL-/120593415289?cmd=ViewItem&pt=UK_Home_Garden_PensPencils_WritingEquipment_SM&hash=item1c13ed7c79

and the Stabilo EasyErgo are available as an HB
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Stabilo-New-Thinner-1-4mm-Easy-Pencil-Lead-Refills-/370409016553?cmd=ViewItem&pt=UK_Home_Garden_PensPencils_WritingEquipment_SM&var=&hash=item9503463f61


At least there is starting to be a choice of hardness in this lead size

(No affiliations with any of the sellers on *bay)

Ho See Kum said...

Hi. Can a 1.4mm lead be used on a faber castell poly 1.6 super pencil? It uses 1.6mm lead and I dun seems to be able to find any in the market.

Ho

Kiwi-d said...

Hello Ho.
I have not heard of 1.6mm lead or F-C poly super pencil so I cannot really say, but I would imagine the answer is NO.

Ho See Kum said...

Thanks for the fast reply. I bought a few of this pencils thinking that they uses 2mm lead, but i was wrong as it was thinner. Well then i just have to do some trial n error and try to get some propelling pencil leads to see if it fits.

Time Waster said...

Ah you have one of these =) I wonder if it's similar to a Cross Torpedo? I'm not paying 35.00 to find out =)

Owen said...

Dave, since not winning your 5th anniversary giveaway, I went to ebay and bought two F-C emotion pencils. They arrived fast. One is identical to the one pictured above. The other is also wood but a white wood with metal cap and end instead of plastic. The weight difference is surprisingly substantial.

Your #2 point which you find a detraction, the 1.4mm lead, is a boon for me. I love it for sketching. Fantastic.

I am also trying it out as a writing pencil for the daily journal I keep. The jury is still out as to which I prefer, heavy or light but I seem to prefer the heavier (metal ends) for sketching because although weighty in the hand it seems to keep my line looser and held lighter (sounds contradictory) in the hand because the weight of the pencil does the work that would otherwise be accomplished by my fingers pinching the barrel.

The lighter one (plastic ends - the one shown in your post, above) is nice for journaling because it can held for long periods without tiring the hand, although to be perfect I think I need an even softer lead, 2B, to compensate for the lack of weight.

Phew.

It would be nice if Faber-Castell noted this differing weight factor because otherwise it's a total surprise and a person could be disappointed (I paid dirt on ebay so I won all 'round) and a person could think that, for better or worse depending on their preference, that all e-motion pencils are equal.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with Owen. The weight factor is very significant. The heavier pencil is in pear wood is more attractive and better made. It is a great pencil for drawing. The erasers are very good but expensive - $15 for 10.

Anonymous said...

Hi there. You have a fantastic blog. I received this pencil as a gift and since then have suffered days of endless searching about the lead size and availability. I'm from India and every retailer holds the instrument in their hand as if it's some other-worldly gizmo. I can't find anyone who can get me 1.4mm leads. It is possible to use 1.3mm leads?

Anonymous said...

I lost mine two days ago..Shame, it was in wood and very comfortable, smooth and not too light. Recommend this design.