Jun 15, 2012

The Thing With The Chameleon...

My fully crammed personal Finchley got quite heavy in the meantime, so I began to search for the ways to make the load lighter. 
Downsizing to Pocket seemed the first and obvious choice (even more so because I had it in the same style and colour and Finchley's teal is such a beautiful colour!).

Well, I already told you how my first Pocket experiment turned out, and so my second option was to try Compact size. And along it came, in a Raspberry Compact Chameleon, with SNARLing being such a great inspiration for it.

I haven't set it up yet, but I wanted to share my first impression.

First, naturally, the size (I chose to compare it to a Personal Finchley, a model I'm sure you're all familiar with):

I stuffed Chameleon more than full here, but see how it still appears much thinner!

I find it hard to exactly describe the feel of the compact size - it only comes to my mind that it feels, well - compact.  There's no redundant bulk and the spine with the smaller ring size feels nice, the (full) binder on the whole feels more defined, sharper (oooh, I wish my English was better than that!).

Maybe the picture above explains it better: in the Compact, there's no space left between the paper and the cover, while in the Personal one the space between the cover and the paper is bigger.
Is it just me or the ring curve of the Personal size takes up more additional space and cannot be used in full  compared to Compact?

Therefore, the verdict: it really feels beautifully compact and sleek, I fell for this format immediately! It is also much lighter, even when full - another bonus!

Please note: the Chameleon comes with only one (elasticated) pen loop which is on the left (which feels quite unusual to me... and a bit impractical, too, being right-handed); I have another pen loop because I used the Leuchtturm pen loop sticker on the right - I wouldn't want the photos to mislead you!

Now on to its leather.

It feels very smooth, the pattern actually feels like a lizard's skin indeed, it's soft and very pleasant. I do find it similar to Finsbury, apart from the feel of the pattern relief - and the Chameleon doesn't lie flat either, well, not for now. 

The only thing that I'm not so sure of for now is the pattern and the finish of it.

I find those cute darker "hearts" in the pattern too big and too dark compared to the background, it feels the pattern is pulsating, and I find it a bit too agressive.

I saw the green and aqua Chameleons (not in Compact!) in person as well, but they, on the other hand, the  seem a bit too muted  because of the muted background and the big proportion of the darker part of the pattern.

The other thing is the wear of the pattern; the Chameleon I got has been used before, and the discoloration that came with the use is clearly seen on the clasp:

Seeing photos of other people's Chameleons, I'm starting to believe it could be a collective problem of the Chameleon range.

There was a damage to its front cover as well, in the two pictures above the last one you can see the discoloration that was area without a colour at all in the beginning; I believe there had to be a price label or a sticker there that a previous owner took off and some of the colour peeled off with it.

I took a purple Staedtler pen (it looked the best colour match, and I was a bit impatient already, you see!) and coloured it; it worked well on the damaged part of the surface (you almost cannot see it with your eye, well, the camera is merciless, though), but to no avail on the clasp where the ink kept rubbing off.

So, here are my concluions about the Compact Chameleon:

1. I definitely love the size,
2. I also love the leather very much, the feel and quality of it.

I'm not so sure about:
- the pattern itself,
- the fading of the pattern colour through simple use and
- one pen loop, and that being placed on the left as well.

To conclude, I think the "hardware" part of it is actually great - the size, the overall quality, the feel of it; the details that I maybe don't like must be the thing of an individual's taste and preferences, I guess.
So, yes, I'd definitely recommend and buy again the Chameleon in Compact, but next time I'd probably choose it in black colour, check it out on the video link above, it's so stylish, sleek and glossy, mmm!


  1. Beautiful! As you'll know, I'm currently using my compact Chameleon in raspberry from the Denmark site. I'm loving it; the size is just great, I totally agree with you there.

    I also have the pocket raspberry Chameleon. I bought that at the end of February and only got my compact a couple of weeks ago. I've found that the leather of the pocket is more supple than the compact. Neither of them open 'completely' flat, but when they are full and I press them down, they lie flat enough for my liking.

  2. Two pink Filos side-by-side, drool! (: Been wanting to try a Compact but never have. I think I'm getting more and more convinced by the Chameleon. (If only I can find it in Aqua.)

    Great, detailed review, thanks!

  3. Great review thanks, the chameleon doesn't really appeal to me, I had the aqua and sent it back, so I agree with you totally there, but using a compact really does, think that will be the next Filofax that I buy once I have the money :) x

  4. Great post!

    I have been using the compact Regency since October, though my first compact purchase was the black chameleon. I did like it, but my one gripe is that it doesn't lay flat. It might after a lot of use - I used mine for only a few months before switching. The regency is much softer leather and lays flat right out of the box. It is expensive though.

    So attached to the compact size now, I don't think I could go back to the personal for everyday use. I do use a personal malden to keep all of the extra stuff that I would otherwise carry with me. That stays home all the time. But it's a great compact companion.

    I'm thinking of selling my black compact chameleon since I haven't used it since getting the regency, so if you or anyone you know might be interested in buying it at a discount, let me know. Otherwise, it will eventually (when I get around to it) end up on the Philofaxy AdSpot page.

  5. Thank you, kanalt!
    Given the feedback and the talk going on on philofaxy, your black compact one won't stay long! :-)
    I'll contact you on your email!

  6. I have the compact Chameleon in Raspberry as well, and I know what you mean about the leather. I actually switched from it to a compact Finsbury in blue. I love it so much more. I actually feel like it is made better than the Chameleon. I found a small tear in the leather of the Chameleon at the back by the part of the pocket that attaches to the binder itself, and also when looking in the back zip pocket all I saw was glue residue no actual stitching, where as there in nothing like that with my Finsbury. Great post.

    1. Thank you, Steph, we're definitely on the same boat here, I love Finsburys! Is it just me or they are rather overlooked in the blogger's world?

  7. I bought my first Filofax a month ago and chose a red compact Chameleon. I too was inspired by Snarling!
    I love this binder so much, the color, the leather, the smell! I was a bit worried the ring size would be too small butit is working out perfectly. Give yours a shot, i am positive you will love it too :)

    1. Romina, I will give it a shot: thanks to Snarling and you! Thank you! :-)

  8. I've just been told I imagined the Compact Aqua Finsbury, and I'm gutted! I have too many pinks, but unless another one comes up in this price range, in blue, this is it for me. (:

    1. I meant Chameleon, not Finsbury, ha ha.

    2. Ha ha, Doris, this is just one more sign of a collector's disease!
      But to comfort you a little, having seen the Aqua Chameleon in person: it does look more greyish, less aqua, at least to me... I know, I have seen Angela's post, too, but she would manage to take absolutely fab photos of *even the dullest binder in the world* anyway! ;-)
      I'm sure next year's range will be all towards the blues and greens! :-)

    3. Call me weird, but it's actually the dullness of it that attracts me. And yes, Angela's photos are always great. (Compact in Raspberry on 50% sale in the US! I may just get one.)

  9. Can you tell me how this is holding up after a year? I am thinking of purchasing this same one, but afraid of ruining it!