Friday, May 21, 2010

Pilot Easy-Lead Leads

Pilot Easy-Lead Leads

I recently received a package of leads from someone who reads this blog, an anonymous benefactor from Eugene, Oregon. The leads were surplus to their requirements, and they thought I might put them to better use. Well, I’ll try my best. In further discussion with the donor, Pilot Easy-Lead leads came up, and I mentioned I had some from yonks ago but had never used them. My anonymous lead-friend was quite interested in learning more about the Easy-Lead leads as they had heard they were extremely dark, and they were on the look out for the darkest leads around.

So, to return the favour, here’s a little something on Pilot Easy-Lead leads. Firstly, the leads are made to refill the Pilot Easy-Lead mechanical pencil, and you have no options with Easy-Lead leads. They are 0.7mm diameter, 90mm long and there is only one (unidentified) hardness grade.
pilot easy-lead mechanical pencil and leads

Right, let’s lay some graphite on the paper. Yep, those Easy-Leads are smooth, really smooth. And dark, really dark.

This image shows Pilot Easy-Lead in comparison to the HB grade of three other common brands. There is a world of difference in the smoothness of the writing experience. The photo doesn’t really do a great job of showing the difference in darkness. Sorry about that.
pilot easy-lead v pentel ain and other brands

Next we have Easy-Lead versus the darkest mechanical pencil lead I have, the Uni NanoDia 4B in 0.5mm. They are fairly similar but Easy-Lead is a little darker and a little smoother.
pilot easy-lead v uni nano dia lead

Finally then I thought I’d check out Easy-Lead against Staedtler Mars Lumograph wooden pencils. So, I think the Easy-Lead is about the same darkness as Staedtler Mars Lumograph 5B. Easy-Lead still beats Mars 4B and 5B for smoothness though.
pilot easy-lead v staedtler mars lumograpgh

Clearly then, when it comes to leads, if you are a ‘the darker the better’ sort of person then check out Pilot Easy-Lead leads.

Here's what Pilot have to say about Easy-Lead leads. The Pilot UK website says, “Very smooth, dark and dense writing from an extra long 90mm length lead.” I agree entirely. The Pilot Europe website says, “The high density texture of the lead offers a writing quality similar to a gel ink pen.” Yeah, right! Where would a guy like me get a gel pen from? Oh, ummm, well somehow a gel pen ended up by the telephone…hey I didn’t bring it into the house…had to write down a message…the shame of it all. But at least it was a Pentel. Thus from limited experience I think the gel pen comparison might be stretching things a little too far. But maybe not that far.

Note: It was years ago, but my Pilot Easy-Lead mechanical pencil and Easy-Lead refill were given to me by Cult Pens in the UK. I promised to acknowledge them if I put them on the blog...been a long time waiting.


Michael J Corry said...

How do they rate on a smear test? I like dark leads but stay with lighter, harder grades to avoid my notebook pages looking as though there was a mist over them after the writing had been there a while.

memm said...

Thanks for telling us about this pencil! I wonder about the same thing as Sapphire. I it does not smudge it will be a fantastic pencil!

Time Waster said...

That grip looks similar to the Pilot Pens of years ago.
Pilot BP-S they are called after doing a quick search.

Anonymous said...

I've been using the Easy-Lead for about a year now. It's a nice, practical pencil for when you need to write something clearly visible, or for filling out scantron cards. It also doesn't fade as quickly as some other leads.

It's not as dark as that first photo makes it look, though - it's still "lead colour", not black. I had originally bought it because I've been looking for a "true black" lead that could be erased - this wasn't it, unfortunately, though it wasn't a bad purchase; I use it as my default lead for writing now.

I bought it from Cult Pens, as well. I couldn't find another store that had them.

2nd_astronaut said...

Are these leads only usable in the Easy-Lead pencil?

Kiwi-d said...

2nd - they are 0.7mm leads so usable in other pencils. You might have to snap a bit off the end to fit them in some shorter pencils.

Kiwi-d said...

niffiwan - as a regular user would you care to comment re smoothness, and the smudge/smear factor?

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Sapphire. I wasn't meaning to ignore you, but was hoping a user of Easy lead would comment. Still hope they will.

But anyway, I still have my test papers from the lead trials, so I've given them a good rub and smear. Easy Lead smeared more than Staedtler woodcase 4B and 5B, and more than the BIC, Pentel and Staedtler HB grade MP leads, but it didn't smear as much as Uni NanoDia 4B. That last bit really surprised me. Overall it didn't really smear as much as I expected, but clearly more than normal HB grade leads.

Michael J Corry said...

Ignore me at your peril bwahahhaaa

Sorry 'bout that.
Anyway, thanks for the info - I'm surprised they smudged more than the Staedtler 4B and 5B. Those are my most used drawing pencils and I do a lot of blending.
Next time I have an order for Cult Pens, I'll get a few to try.

Kiwi-d said...

I guess the amount of smudging could be highly variable depending on technique and how much lead on the paper to start with. I mean if you scribble over the same spot several times I guess it will smudge more than a single layer of graphite as it were. For my 'smudge' test I simply folded a piece of paper in half and gave the lead marks a few fast heavy rubs.

Anonymous said...

@Kiwi-d, I'm not sure what you mean about "smoothness". It goes smoothly along the page when you write with it, if that's what you mean. What I also like is that it's possible to write very small with it, yet have the writing be legible and not fade away as quickly. It does smear, but not as much as I thought it would, and it remains dark even after it's smeared some.

As for sketching, it really is more like charcoal than pencil, except for the colour which isn't black. It's hard to get a LIGHT shade in which the pencil strokes aren't visible, because they're so dark.

Anonymous said...

Also, the one I got wasn't transparent-black as yours is, but transparent-red.

Kiwi-d said...

Thanks niffiwan.

Anonymous said...

I used one for a while. The leads seemed "squeaky," and sometimes felt a bit like you feel when you're walking over ice, and aren't sure if your foot is going to slip. I *think* there's a pigpog note to this sort of effect, too. The leads wore down very fast - no wonder they have to be so long, but that must be the price you pay for very high density. The line seemed to smear a bit when erasing it. And, I didn't care much for the barrel. It's triangular, but I seemed to find myself gripping it over the *points* rather than the flats. Nonetheless, an interesting experiment, giving the most intense line I've seen from a pencil.
- PointFour

Cult Pens said...

Thanks for the review Dave - better late than never ;)
Although EasyLead Pencils are now discontinued in the UK we hold large stocks of the PL-7EL lead and expect to be able to get it for the foreseeable future. As you say, they should work in any 0.7mm pencil, though as they're 10mm longer than standard lead it might not fit in shorter lead reservoirs.

Wendell said...

I compared the Pilot Easy-Lead to some Pilot Neox Eno 4B. There is a difference in darkness and smudging, but I have to look really close to see it. It's the amount of difference I would normally expect by going one grade up or down. So I would call the Easy-Lead a solid 5B in the Pilot range. Woodcased pencils don't reach inky blackness until about 8B grade, IMHO, and the Easy-Lead is nowhere close to that. The biggest difference between the Eno 4B and the Easy-Lead is that while the Eno is pactically slient, the Easy-Lead sounds like a felt-tip art pen.

If you prefer 0.5mm and want something darker than 4B, I doubt you will be impressed with Easy-Lead. If you prefer 0.7mm and have wished for something softer than the usual 2B, I think you will find Easy-Lead worth trying. If you can't find some, try the Neox Eno 4B, which is faintly darker (and more smudgy) than Pentel Ain 4B.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know if i can get the Pilot Easy-Lead Mechanical Pencil in the usa. Does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

Argh - pencil has been discontinued; leads still available...