Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pencil Review: Staedtler Mars Lumograph

The Staedtler Mars Lumograph is without a doubt the best of the pencils that I have reviewed so far.  Unlike my previously-reviewed pencils, which are marketed as basic writing pencils, often targeted towards students, the Mars Lumograph is described specifically as a "premium quality sketching/drawing pencil."  It comes in six degrees: 2B, 3B, 4B, 6B, 2H, and 4H.  I opted for the 2B, which is fairly middle-of-the-road, yet should be a bit darker and softer than my HB pencils.  Certainly this is the first of my wooden pencils that has lead that seems as dark as the Pentel Hi-Polymer lead I use in my mechanical pencils.

Why, oh why, are pencils so hard to take good photos of?
The Staedtler Mars Lumograph has a bright blue, hexagonal body, crisply printed in silver letters with the name of the pencil and where it was made (Germany).  Unlike the other wooden pencils I have reviewed, this one has no eraser, merely a black cap on which is printed the degree of the pencil.  I like this feature; erasers on pencils are generally useless for serious erasing jobs anyway, and this ensures that you will be able to quickly pick out the pencil you want if you have a number of these of different degrees stored together.  For some reason, I find myself gripping this pencil harder than I usually do with wooden pencils.  I'm guessing that this may be because the lead is a bit softer than what I am used to or because the Lumograph has a very smooth texture that can feel a bit slippery.  A fairly minor detail nevertheless...

Please ignore the random scribbles in the background.
The Mars Lumograph has a very smooth, dark lead that feels enjoyable to write with.  It erases very cleanly with my Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser (of course I had to use my Staedtler eraser with my Staedtler pencil!).  The package claims that "leads will not crumble or dust."  I did not notice any crumbling of the lead, even when the lead was freshly sharpened to a point, although this has never been an issue with any wooden pencil that I have used.  The package also claimed that the Lumograph writes with "smear-resistant lines,"  but a quick test comparing this pencil with the other wooden pencils that I own revealed that smearing is about equal for all of them.  Light pressure on the page shouldn't smear the lead too much, but smearing can occur with this pencil as well as with others.

Writing and erasing samples.

Because the Mars Lumograph is, after all, a sketching and drawing pencil, I thought I should use it to do a bit of actual sketching:

I'm so sorry that I had to inflict this upon you...
But now that I've done this I don't think this sketch really adds much to this review other than to show that my pencil sketching skills are sadly lacking - and that I really need to work on learning how to shade properly.  This is awful.  (But then again, this is the first thing I've drawn with a pencil since elementary school, so I suppose I shouldn't be too upset about it.)  Oh, and I can finally draw a lamp.

Moving on, the Staedtler Mars Lumograph is a great pencil for writing, with dark, smooth lead that erases well.  Unfortunately, I am not an experienced or skilled enough artist to really comment on how well it performs for sketching and drawing.  Regardless of that, I will still recommend this pencil if you want to start using wooden pencils - or if you're looking for a pencil that is a bit better than the average.

Related reviews: Pencil Talk, PenciLog, Dave's Mechanical Pencils (a review of two separate wooden pencils, including this one).

13 comments:

  1. I own a set of these drawing pencils that came in a small protective tin. I can toss the tin into a bag and not worry about the pencils getting beat up or breaking. With all the different sizes, it makes concept designs in my notebook a breeze. If you are going to get the Mars Lumograph, I recommend getting the tin of six.

    BTW, your drawing is not bad. It was a good perspective of your lamp. Not all drawings need to be super fancy.

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    1. Thanks, indigogarden! I'm glad you like my drawing. I guess it probably isn't really that bad, but drawing with a pencil feels so different to me than drawing with a pen, and I don't yet know how to get the effects I want with a pencil. I still have a lot of learning to do there!

      It would be fun to have the whole tin of these pencils. Definitely something to consider if I continue using pencils...

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    2. Switching mediums, from pen to ink to digital, can be a bit of a trial, but it is how we expand our skill set. Just keep up with it. You are far more talented at drawing than I am. :)

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  2. Oh awesome! This is a pencil I actually recognize! I LOVE it! I am not a sketcher but I still love to use them anyway. I have one of the variety sets and it's really neat to use them, going from hardest to softest lead.

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    1. Thanks, Azizah! I really love this pencil as well - it's just so much better than the other pencils that I have reviewed. I definitely will try to check out all of the varieties at some point. I've always just used HB pencils, but I would like to start using pencils in different degrees, from hard to soft, and seeing what different effects I can get with them.

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  3. Thanks, Heather, for a nice review of a well-liked wood-cased pencil that's been around forever. indigogarden is right about the Lumograph tins. My memory is fuzzy, but I recall something like a dozen in a tin, in a pretty wide variety of grades.

    If you warm to wood-cased pencils, you may want to try some of the manual sharpeners by KUM, M + R, Dux, etc. Most are around USD $2-5, and are worth getting. They can give you a choice of long points, short points, shavings' reservoirs, etc.

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    1. That's my post above. Jack/Ohio. I'm using a Koh-i-noor pencil in 6B grade these days, and, it, too, is an easy-to-like pencil: very smooth lead, high-quality finish, choice of grades, etc.

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    2. Thanks for the pencil sharpener recommendations, Jack! My current pencil sharpener is very basic and I would like to upgrade. I like to sharpen my pencils to a long, sharp point, but it's hard to get that with my sharpener.

      I haven't actually heard of the Koh-i-noor pencils, but the one you are using sounds very nice - although I can't imagine what a pencil as soft as a 6B would be like to write with.

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    3. Writes more like a 4B Lumo, Heather, so it works well for me. Enjoy!

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  4. Great review of a great pencil!

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  5. Thanks for you review. I use the Lumograph when I'm outdoors and taking quick notes, always on the run and it's better than a regular ballpoint pen. Perhaps I always liked those german pens ;-)

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  6. Staedtler use to make a N2 pencil that was smear , smudge resistant. It was amazing. Sadly I can no longer find these pencils . Have you found any lead that is smear or smudge resistant in your travels ? I would love to be able to find somthing that could put in a line but not have to worry about rubbing it off like the N2 pencil used to do. Any help would be apreciated.

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