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So Why Use an Iwata Custom Micron?

Discussion in 'Airbrushes' started by Electric Cat Dude, Mar 13, 2021.


  1. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Gravity Guru

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    Or better titled: “Why Iwata owes me royalties for advertising their products.”

    last spring I acquired a H&S Infinity CR Plus and returned to airbrush art after a 22 year hiatus. I have enjoyed using the Infinity CR Plus and it is a well made brush. But recently I gained access to all of my old airbrush equipment from long ago, including my CM-B and CM-SB and started using them again. And I can make this report back.

    Most newcomers to airbrush art will react with sticker shock to the Custom Micron price tag and wonder why on earth anyone would pay $500 for an airbrush. In truth it’s not an easy justification to make for newcomers but, after you’ve logged some trigger time, the answers become very clear.

    I make this comparison largely against the H&S Infinity because it’s another high end fine art and illustrator’s airbrush. Both the Infinity and the Micron have excellent fit and finish and both can deliver exacting fine lines. The Infinity does come more accessorized than the Micron does and even has a few nicer features like a superior pre-set handle design to the Micron.

    but what drives my decision toward the Micron over any other airbrush line is the absolute functionality, dependability, and repeatability. The airbrush has an exceptional feel and balance in one’s hands. The trigger is silky smooth with no binding or hang-ups noticeable during operation. The machining, fit and polish on critical parts and interfaces is second to none. This translates into a very reliable and exacting airbrush that is highly controllable. I know when I pull the trigger on my CM-B or CM-SB exactly how much paint I will get for a given draw and I will repeat this every time I pull the trigger. I have not found this to be possible on the Infinity airbrush line. The trigger on the infinity does not often release paint at the same rate or quantity with every drawback, which means I cannot rely on the dependable application of paint. The highly polished needles on the Microns are far more resistant to tip buildup, though it will occur after time. I’ve had instances with the Infinity where the brush would release paint before the needle was drawn back or it would spatter paint before pulling back the trigger ( BIG NO NO in a fine art airbrush!). Both airbrushes do best with transparent media like watercolors, dyes, etc. and both can draw excellent fine lines. But the Micron, with its sheer controllability and reliability wins out. You just don’t have to fuss or worry about it and can trust the performance of the gun to apply the exact amount of paint exactly where you want it, when you want it. That’s a major hallmark of a good art tool, sense you can start depending on his feedback from things like trigger pull, position from the work surface, etc. to render from your mind’s dictates. There’s just no other airbrush I have seen which can do that like a Micron.

    Anyways, that’s just my two cents. And Iwata? You can start mailing your checks to me now!
    jord001 and JackEb like this.
  2. Kim McCann

    Kim McCann Mac-Valve Maestro! Very Likeable!

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    I agree. I have the Infinity and both the CB and C+. The SB wins out for me between all of them. I will say however, that you can tame the unpredictability of the Infinity with proper needle polishing with good lapping paste, and replacing the stock air valve. It makes it a much, much nicer beast, almost on par with the C+ out of the box. But, I still prefer my SB however. There is something about the trigger travel that is just smoother and easier to work with that the C+ or Infinity. Maybe it's also that out of the box, the H&S brush just seems to need more tuning.

    Also I am not too fond of the newer nozzles and aircaps on the H&S designs. I have a old Infinity, and frankly, the old parts were better.

    One thing I really wish Iwata would stock is needle protectors like the O and horn versions that the Infinity has. Those are very, very useful.

    I ground down one of my Iwata needle protecting caps into the devil horns shape myself, because of how useful that is on the infinity.
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  3. Mr.Micron

    Mr.Micron Royal pain in the air hose Staff Member Admin Very Likeable!

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    While I am not a side feed person mainly due to how the balance feels to me. I will say that between my CM-C+ V1 and the H&S infinity the Iwata wins.
    The nozzles on the infinity seem to crack on me and one even cracked just slowly installing the needle with out any paint even touching it.
    So now my Infinity just sits in it's case.
    As far as the needle protection caps only when I am storing them LOL I like to live on the edge :D
  4. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Gravity Guru

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    As I understand it you can buy custom air caps for Iwata air brushes from third-party vendors. Or if you have access to a milling machine or Dremel tool like you suggested you can make your own. Heck I’m sure Dave G can make you one, if you ask him nicely.

    I do find, however, that when you’re doing fine lines, no matter what the airbrush having no needle cap on it at all is the best way to periodically remove tip build up. It seems like I’ll always keep a cotton ball soaked in cleaner nearby, which I used to periodically dab off the needle tip on the brush as I work to keep tip build up to a minimum.
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  5. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Gravity Guru

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    Yeah the H&S product line seems to have som quality control problems. So far I’ve had to replace my 0.4mm nozzle as it kept leaking paint during operation and wouldn’t properly seat the needle in the bore. It’s a pity as the Infinity has all the looks and finish of a high quality airbrush. I just wish their reliability matched up with Iwata. And that’s odd since Iwata owns H&S as I understand!

    As I mentioned to Kim, it seems like you have to remove the air cap when doing extremely fine lines. And I always keep a cotton ball soaked in cleaner to periodically dab the needle tip in to remove tip buildup wen doing detail work.
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  6. AndreZA

    AndreZA Love this place! Forum Supporter Very Likeable!

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    Iwata only recently took over H&S. They are improving quality as what can be seen with the V2 needles. Maybe other stuff will come with time. I don't have any issues with any of mine.

    Depending on the nozzle cap, you will get the same detail with it on or off. The reason people take them off and why the crown/devil/pronged design came about, is to get rid of air turbulance. When you are very close to the surface, the air gets trapped between the surface and inside of the nozzle cap and this messes with the paint coming out. If you don't work at a 90° to the surface, like me, it is less of a problem as the air can escape. But removing it does make it easier to shoot on target. This is my mod to cheap chinese caps. https://avwairbrushworks.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/needle-cap-mod/
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2021
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  7. stefanvalent

    stefanvalent Young Tutorling

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    Well, you convinced me! Hi everyone. After a lifetime of using Azteks (I know), I decided it was time for an upgrade. I've been lurking around this forums for months now, trying to learn as much as I could about what's out there - and I made the leap to a CM-SB. So thank you. We'll see how this goes.

    In the meantime, any tips or advice for a Micron noob you guys might have would be appreciated. I saw the post in another thread about being able to dunk the entire head in cleaning solution (Something I really appreciated about Aztek's plastic nibs). Any other practical advice like that?
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  8. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    I fought against side cups and microns for years when I first started, I couldn’t understand why everyone was thought they were the bees knees. After a few years I eventually caved and bought a CM-SB ! Now it’s my go to brush.
    I like all my brushes, they’ve all taught me things
  9. AndreZA

    AndreZA Love this place! Forum Supporter Very Likeable!

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    Congratulations. You will not regret it. They are not as fragile as they might seem. They can take quite a beating. Yes you can soak the whole head. There are no seals in there. Very easy easy to clean. When using very thinned paint, you can go to ridiculously low pressure. Play with it and enjoy.
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  10. Leakyvalve

    Leakyvalve Mac-Valve Maestro! Very Likeable!

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    There is something about the SB's shortness that for a long time I dismissed. Then I got ahold of a cm-sb (for the second time) and the eclipse SBS and they really clicked with me.
    I even had a couple HP-SB's and didn't like them.
    I still love the C+ and C designs.
    The side feed stuff doesn't clean as well. Being able to see the most of the paint well is a bonus.
    The screw on side feed stuff from other makers are junk. I HATE those things.
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  11. Leakyvalve

    Leakyvalve Mac-Valve Maestro! Very Likeable!

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    Anyone know why the Iwata style side feed isn't copied by anyone? Even Procon Boy Mr. Hobby doesn't have a side feed.
  12. stefanvalent

    stefanvalent Young Tutorling

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    JackEb - I was going back & forth between the CM-SB and the CM-C+ - I like the idea of being able to quickly sub out different cups of paint, something I'm used to with my Azteks (As a bonus my Aztek cups seem to be compatible). While I'm not sure how often I'd use it in practice, I also like the idea of that in-brush pressure regulator of the later, as well as the cutaway handle... Since I had to make a choice I went with the former. Won't lie, if they announce a CM-SB+ in the next few months I might feel a little irritated.

    AndreZA - Thanks! I'm looking forward to playing with it... Mostly I use Com-Arts, which I'm told I can just pour in without worrying about thinning. Even with those, I don't plan on ever putting their metallic paints through the Micron.
  13. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    I have both the cm-b+ and the cm-sb and I can go much lower pressure without thinning with the SB, don’t know why, don’t care, it is what it is lol
    I have a dedicated eclipse .35 and an eclipse siphon feed .5 that I use for pearls and metallics. Nothing worse than grabbing a brush (that you cleaned before putting away) and have a random piece/s of metallic spit out while doing a dark background (been there, done that lol )

    you should be fine with the com mart unthinned, like Etac it’s a great paint for beginners, no fussing with reductions etc :)
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  14. DaveG

    DaveG Airbush Analyst Very Likeable!

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    Just a technical note - While Procon does not have a "Micron" style side feed, they do make a side feed. The PS276. It comes as a .3, but I converted mine to a .2 using a mix of off the shelf parts. It works really well, atomizes very finely, and smoothly - as well as working at respectably low air pressures. It also uses a screw on style side cup, which i don't care for, so adapted it to use normal Iwata style color cups (Grex also has color cup adapters that fit this brush). It's a large sized brush, but works really well.

    creos ps276-3.jpg

    In general, side feeds are in decline throughout the industry. The trend of our times is towards larger "C" cup brushes, for some reason...
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  15. Leakyvalve

    Leakyvalve Mac-Valve Maestro! Very Likeable!

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    I completely forgot that thing existed, should have at least looked before spoutin" off. BTW, I blame modelers for influencing the "C" craze. Someone mentioned (maybe Ken Badger??) that the modeler to fine artist ratio is pretty lop sided.

    Also.. The Procons seem larger than they need to be.
  16. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    Well there’s the excuse I needed buy the Eclipse side feed I keep threatening to buy lol
  17. DaveG

    DaveG Airbush Analyst Very Likeable!

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    I hear that, that modelers are driving the direction of the market. I do agree modelers make up a huge section of the market. It even almost makes sense until you really think about it for a minute ;). Most models are only a fraction of the surface area of even a modest size illustration. Most bottles of model paint come in sizes that would fit completely in a "C" cup with room to spare... It's an odd thing, really o_O.
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  18. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Gravity Guru

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    I suspect some of it is that people will look at small color cups or even fluid wells and think to themselves “how the hell am I gonna fit any paint in that?“ then go buy a brush with a large cup on it. You are correct that most people aren’t filling a 1/3 fl oz color cup to the brim while painting and it still takes quite a while to empty one of fluid by spraying it through the gun. Another segment are autobody shops with people using them for small detail painting on cars and motorcycles (although why someone would need to render eyelash thin hairlines on the side of a van is a bit of a mystery). They’re used to spray guns with 2-8 oz paint cups, so a thimble sized color cup would seem absurdly limited in terms of paint capacity.

    I also advise modelers on a regular basis to stay away from airbrushes with a very small nozzle orifices, simply because the kinds of paints they use and model making are really too thick for any kind of nozzle with a bore smaller than about 0.3 mm. To be honest, a Badger 150 with a fine or medium nozzle/needle set will do you well for painting figurines and I have been pleasantly shocked with the reliability of Badger products.
  19. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Gravity Guru

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    While you can clean a Micron head assembly, or any other airbrush equipment that way, I would strongly recommend hand cleaning the airbrush and fluid head components at the end of every painting session. Remember that a Micron does demand that it be kept clean and use properly mixed paints for best performance. You may find them to be fussier in that regard than the Aztek brushes are.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
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  20. Electric Cat Dude

    Electric Cat Dude Gravity Guru

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    I originally bought a CM-SB because I had used the Badger 100 previously and enjoyed it. I like the stubbiness of the brush as I could hold it close to the nozzle, similar as one would grip a pencil or paintbrush, which seemed a little more natural. Another advantage of a side fed brush was that, to me, it seemed to prevent the color cup from obscuring your artwork during use. In the beginning I thought the CM-SB and the HP-SB were too long but today they feel comfortable to hold and I like the ambidextrous ability to mount the side cups.

    I suspect a lot of the side feed’s popularity came from the artists who used them. David Kimble and Dru Blair were big evangelists of the design, though I not sure the brush offered any technical superiority over gravity fed designs.

    Some people claim that gravity fed airbrushes are more capable of rendering fine lines or other detail work that siphon feed brushes, but I’ve never found that to be true of the CM-SB. It will render lines as fine as a technical pen with only a drop or two of paint, just like the CM-B

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