Did a few tests with pencils today, HB range in particular.. my values suck btw.. but.. I just wanted to see how all the HB brands compared.. In the end I found that I reallly liked Staedtler Tradition HB and the Derwent Graphic HB. I used to draw a lot with a 4B mechanical pencil, the lead sails onto the page, but you can't really sketch with it. Only last year I started using the HB again, and it felt really hard (and I still find it I might add) to actually draw with..
Staedtler Tradition goes on really nicely and evenly imho. Derwent Graphic however goes on really accurately and nicely. With both of these pencils it's almost effortless to lay down the values.
The Rolfes Satin HB is awesome too, the lead flies onto the page, but I feel the values would be difficult to control if you need much accuracy.
The Lumograph is okay.. but not as good as the Tradition.
Derwent Sketching is also fine, just that the point is really thick and difficult to put into a chisel shape (which I like, I don't use a sharpener, rather a craft knife to sharpen my pencils). In fact this is the pencil I've been using for most of the holidays, but I'm going to be using the Staedtler Tradition and the Derwent Graphic HB's instead now.
WH Smith and the nameless (no idea where this came from..) pencils are rubbish. Values were really difficult to make. Also the WH Smith pencil is difficult to sharpen, the wood is pine or something and hard as hell to cut with a craft knife..