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Confused about Iwata's various lines....

Discussion in 'Airbrushes' started by Franc Kaiser, May 29, 2018.


  1. Franc Kaiser

    Franc Kaiser Gravity Guru

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    What is really the difference between the Iwata lines (Custom Micron versus Hi-Line versus Hi-Performance)?

    I am sure this topic has been tackled thousand of times in this forum, hence my apologies if this is recycling old discussions. It is something however I need some good advise on.

    I have been spraying with my Sparmax Sp-20x for a while, but I simply don't get the fine lines that I was hoping for, no matter what configuration and technique I am applying. The best I can achieve is a solid line of 1 mm diameter, which is still too rough for what I am aiming to do and achieve eventually.

    Hence, it must be the airbrush that "prevents" me from going really to fine details. Also, I find the trigger control of the Sparmax rather laborious and sometimes unpredictable. I never had a chance to try out something as high-end as a H&S Infinity or a Iwata Custom Micron, so I don't know the difference (I presume those triggers are soft as butter...).

    I am still scratching my head regarding the real differences of those different lines... I see that many of them have 0.2mm needles... but why are some better suited than others for great detail?

    Can I, in theory or in practice, achieve the same with, say, a HP-A Plus as with a HP-BH?

    Basically I am looking for simple pointers from you so I can make the right purchase. I am also ok to buy a Custom Micron or an Infinity, if that's what required to become a detail master.
  2. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    I’ll get together some details to simplify your confusion, but to answer your questions re a detail brush, you won’t regret the CM-SB.
    I can get finer lines easier and at lower PSI with Createx Illustration straight out of the bottle with my CM-SB (side cup) than my CM-B (small cup) both are .18 needles
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  3. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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  4. Franc Kaiser

    Franc Kaiser Gravity Guru

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    Thanks JackEb. Looking at the column “spray pattern”, I would be already happy to achieve a “fine line” (anything smaller than 1 mm). Can it be that a Neo is so much more superior than a Sparmax? The nozzle size of a Neo is larger than the Sparmax’s (0.35mm vs 0.2mm, respectively), I still don’t get my head around this.
  5. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    I would dismiss the Neo straight away. It’s made FOR Iwata not BY iwata.

    If you are looking for a detail brush the it’s more than just ‘a hairline’ that you need. Even a .35 needle will give a fine line if the paint/reduction/psi/speed of hand.

    This may also help. Courtesy of Coast Airbrush.
    http://www.coastairbrushtv.com/Iwata-Airbrush-Guide_p_60.html
  6. Robbyrockett2

    Robbyrockett2 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Is it the airbrush?..... IDK ,I can go just about as fine a line width with a cheap generic $30 brush in .2 as with anything else. Its just does not have as crisp an edge and is harder to do.
    That said;

    I would imagine your sparmax is probably quite a bit better than a neo at detail work just being a .2.
    Although judging by the use of o-rings im betting the quality is similar.
    As detail brushes go you will see these three more than any other; hp-b/b+, Infinity, Micron
    There are multitudes of reasons for that.

    I've not tried a million brushes but heres how i understand this;


    Difference in the A's and B's is cup size. C's , cup size and nozzle diameter.
    HP series are pretty much the gold standard.
    Hi-lines add a mac valve and fat body to that ( and some other quirks with parts)
    not sure about this but as i understand it;
    Micron is supposed to atomize better , not necessarily do a finer line than say an hp-b+ but do it easier and more consistently.

    Triggers are very personal so.....?
    Some are obviously notchy garbage, ( i dont think any of the top quality companies make these)
    Some will fit you right out of the box.
    The rest just need tuned to you.

    To the best of my ability the brush I use equals an hp-b+
    I have not yet felt the need to go to micron.

    Finally , I believe there are brushes from a few other companies that perform equally to and cost much less than their iwata counterparts.
    I am not the only one to think so. In some instances they do give up certain options with either cup size or configurations though.
    Last edited: May 29, 2018
  7. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    Thanks Robbie, I’m strapped for time at the moment, it’s early evening and I’m trying to do 6 things at once :confused:
  8. Robbyrockett2

    Robbyrockett2 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Nothing to do with the price, as it would not cost much for me to switch over to micron performance. I just don't feel my abilities are beyond my "b+ equivalent" brush yet.
  9. Robbyrockett2

    Robbyrockett2 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Hopefully that's a fair summary, and things calm down for you :)
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  10. Franc Kaiser

    Franc Kaiser Gravity Guru

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    thanks a lot JackEb, appreciate it!
  11. Franc Kaiser

    Franc Kaiser Gravity Guru

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    Thanks a lot, BobbyRockett, well, you may be right... maybe it's me, not the Sparmax! However, I can imagine that the trigger mechanism of any Iwata is smoother than the jerky movement of the Sparmax. I dream of a smooth control over the trigger which I certainly don't have, currently.
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  12. Malky

    Malky Pencil Pushing Protagonist Very Likeable!

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    Jackie and Robbie have you covered but just to add an important observation which seems to missed very often, buying a Micron or H&S Infinity despite both being top of the range brushes they won't actually make you better at what you do, depending on your skill level all they do is make what you do easier than the brushes under them, just as these these brushes would help you, you also have to help them, anyone just starting out in airbrushing would have as much difficulty trying to control a Micron as they would a Chinese cheapy, however, anyone with good skills with a low end Badger or other generic brush would certainly see the difference.

    You also need to take into consideration the paint you use, some paints even specific to airbrush have heavier pigments and therefore may struggle through smaller nozzles even with lots of thinning, some brands use heavier pigments in darker colours, this is certainly true of Golden paints, you can thin the paint but you can't thin the pigment, so really it is important to know your way around the different paints as well as hone your skills before jumping on the top models, as far iwata goes the mid range brushes are more forgiving in this respect.

    Lastly before considering a Micron, pay attention to the cost of parts, the cost of breaking 3 nozzles and 3 needles would get you a new Micron.
  13. Robbyrockett2

    Robbyrockett2 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    I havent used a sparmax so who knows. Just don't want to be the guy that says "yeah a better brush will fix that, for sure"
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  14. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    @DaveG may also be able to add his experiences here
  15. Robbyrockett2

    Robbyrockett2 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    I think @Micha der Wolf should be on the H&S payroll. I know seeing his work has made me want to try an infinity a whole lot of times. Despite knowing the brush can't magically give me skills.
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  16. Micha der Wolf

    Micha der Wolf Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    You're right! The art comes from the hands.
    Although good tool makes a lot easier.
    I also have a Micron and an Infinity, I like both very much! I honestly do not have a clear favorite. (at most with the costs!)
  17. RichardH

    RichardH Elite Member! Elite Member! Very Likeable!

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    I can vouch for everything @Malky has said here. When I was getting started I wanted the learning curve to be easier for me, so I bought the best brush I could afford at the time. Then the learning curve kicked in. Still not there yet but it has gotten easier with eliminating the " What is wrong with this brush" attitude. Malky is right also about paint. Learn one paint brand before jumping to another. I started with CI and then went to E'tac. Between the 2, I like the E'tac the best. But wait a minute, why not try Schmincke aero ink. Very expensive here but excellent ink. Bought some Daler Rowney FW ink. It had settled in the bottom so hard, I couldn't mix it with a mixer. Now I am working on learning Golden High Flow because Herb had recommended I try it. I do like it and will probably stick with it.
    In conclusion of this post, I have come to believe that it is my ability and not what brush or paint I use. Since I have started airbrushing, I have accumulated a lot of paint, airbrushes, accessories and etc.etc. It all comes down to sitting down or standing ( your choice) and just learn to control both brush and paint. I'm not there yet but I am having fun trying different things and learning with each picture I do. For some, the learning curve is short. For some (including me) the learning curve will take a good while.
    Hope y'all didn't mind my opinion on this.

    Richard
  18. Malky

    Malky Pencil Pushing Protagonist Very Likeable!

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    I believe like myself, Dave's go to brush is the iwata HP-B, I've had the Micron and couldn't get much out of it, not because it wasn't a good brush but because it just didn't suit my style or my paints, but other than user error I've never had any problems with my HP-B's.
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  19. DaveG

    DaveG Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    I have a fair collection of brushes to compare against one another. Reading through this thread, there is not really much that I can add that has not already been covered.

    As a beginner, it is absolutely normal to get to a point (usually out of frustration) where we question our equipment. Whether top of the line, or bargain basement, we become convinced it MUST be the tool ;). Most times, if we just stick with what we have, and continue to experiment with paint reductions, pressure, an practice, we can work through the uncertainties and come out the other end more proficient. This is obviously easier if one can eliminate the questions about the equipment, which may be easier with name brand, or tools with good reputations over a long period of time...

    That being said, I have quite a few brushes that cost under $40, many under $30, and plenty that cost a good bit more, that all produce results that I could, and would (and do) use all day long. Malky is correct, I have Microns that date back to the early to mid 80's, new V2's, and some in between - and my go to brush is an Iwata HP-B or B+. It is just the brush that I find the most comfort with.

    Now, for me that one brush that does it all, is the HP-B(+) - but, for you, or the next guy, it could be a Micron, could be a H&S, a Sparmax, or PointZero... it is almost impossible to predict which brush you will find the sweet spot in. My advice, is just keep trying, practicing, experimenting, and if you get a chance - try a different brush now and then, without thinking it could change the world or solve all your problems.
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  20. Malky

    Malky Pencil Pushing Protagonist Very Likeable!

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    I was happiest before I stopped with my HP-B+, my Golden and Com-Art paints and my gessoed boards or Schoelershammer No.4 airbrush paper, this is the happy place I'm trying to return to to able to work with confidence, I've learned the hard way that fighting with any part of your inventory just isn't the way forward, in fact it can usually take you backwards, I caused myself untold grief by trying new things when there was nothing wrong with what I had:confused: I now have everything I had back when everything was cool, the only thing that's stopping me now is a load building and refurbishment work going on in my house which is fortunately nearing an end.

    While I loved my Micron and it was just as comfortable in my hand as the HP-B, I believe my biggest problem with it was being over protective of it and being constantly afraid of breaking it knowing what the parts cost, considering I couldn't always afford the parts due to seasonal earnings at the time and as we all know, we cant actually choose when we break something, so all this makes it hard to get anything out of our tools when we're too nervous to use them in the first place, no doubt anyone who could afford to buy a new brush every week would have less of a problem in this area.

    After reading the reviews on the Creos brushes on here, I'm tempted to give one a try in the future, but more than likely the fairly distant future.
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