Welcome to Librarium Online!
This is a bit long, but I'm trying to eliminate some options, so I hope you guys can help.
Before anyone asks, I've read some of the past "What airbrush should I buy" threads with interest here, but I wanted to drop a few names and see if anyone's used them, and what they think.
For the record, I plan to use it for as much as possible: priming, basecoating, varnishing, detail work, everything. I will probably use Vallejo Model Air primers and paints, with some Vallejo Model Color/Game Color stuff thrown in, thinned with Windex, and maybe even some GW Foundations from time to time. I plan to paint in my house, so I can't use a noisy compressor. Might start out with canned air until I find I like the airbrush, then get the compressor. I'm thinking double-action, and probably gravity-fed, unless somebody out there can tell me why they swear by siphon-fed.
I fear using Tamiya paints, even though everyone with an airbrush seems to swear by it, as I hear using acrylic washes over Tamiya paints produces disastrous results.
As to what brush, I've got it narrowed down to a few choices:
Iwata HP-CS (Middle of page--Clicky!): At $129 with the hose (not including shipping), it's the more expensive in my list, but I hear people raving about it. Is it worth the money?
The Paasche VSR90 (on bottom--Clicky!): A little cheaper, and it comes with two cups and two needle/tip combos. Sounds like a good value for the money.
The Badger 100LG (Clicky!): Another one I hear a lot about, and comparable to the Paasche VSR90, or so I'm told.
The Aztek A4305 (Clicky!) Similar to what the guy at my FLGS uses. He loves that there's essentially only one piece to clean. Reviews online are mixed, with many saying it's sub-par. It's easily one of the cheapest options for me, though.
Master Series G43 (Clicky!): I've heard this is as good as a $400 airbrush, but clearly one of the cheapest I can find that still seems like a decent buy. The G23 is even cheaper. Anyone used these?
One last thing (promise!): I like the look of the Salon Air TC-60 (Clicky!) Is it worth it? I hear it's super-quiet.
Sorry for the big post. I'm just looking to see if anyone's used any of these, or can comment on them, to help me narrow my choices. Thanks for any and all help!
P.S. If somebody thinks ALL of these options are bad, and can recommend a better one, I'm all ears.
There is no point spending a lot on a decent airbrush if you ar using cans. Get a compressor, they are not that loud at all. For an airbrush get a double action gravity fed one with 0.3mm needle and a decent cup size of at least 6cc or you will foreve be filling it up if you use it for basecoating.
A company called Spraymaster make decent airbrushes similar to IAWATA but without the badge. You can get them on amazon and their compressors are half the price of Iawata and just as good.
Quorn! - Protein for the Protein God.
Unfortunately, for everything you wish to do, one brush will not fill all needs. I have the IWATA HP-BS Eclipse and it does the most amazing detail work, since I can shoot one drop of paint/ink through it at a time. If you can find a suitable knock-off gravity fed it will make subtle details really easy, fast and incredible. For the base-coating and overcoat applications, simply buy the cheapest single-action, siphon-fed airbrush you can find - which are pretty easy to find at under $20US. This is your junk spraying workhorse and you may end up using this one more than your detail brush.
I have a nice, dual action Badger brush, but the air seals went out on it and I have not used it in years as I have many other brushes to take it's place. It did work nice when I was using it. As far as the others on your list, I have not used those.
I have put my comments on the virtues of flat enamels over acrylics in some previous airbrush threads, but under no circumstances would I EVER run acrylics through my gravity fed Iwata - these are made to spray inks only, but you can push it to spray thinned out enamel as the paint thinner helps flow and keep the paint from sticking and clogging. Water (or windex) does not have those same properties when shooting acrylics. Also, thinner will atomize and evaporate better than water and give you a better finish than water-thinned paints. Although you have minor fumes, it is not very bad at all - just don't shoot lacquer in a closed space!!
Your cheap single action brush can shoot whatever you want through it. I don't personally as I stick to enamels even with this brush.
You can get a very small compressor fairly inexpensively, too. It can really be as small as you can find, but it must have a tank. Also, it will not run continuously - it will shut off when the tank is full. So, if it make a little noise it is OK. Just don't get a cheap compressor made to inflate stuff as they don't have a tank and just keep pumping air and never shut off.
Thanks guys for the comments!
@MDSW: I get what you're saying, but I've heard that buying and using a single-action brush makes the learning curve steeper once one goes to the double-action, which I'm sure to do at some point when I want to go with fine detail work.
About the cheap single-action siphon fed brushes, how narrow are the tips? What's a cheap-but-good version? Can you recommend one? You said under $20 US. That would certainly go well with the budget.
I get that I need a compressor, but if I can get a couple cans of air and a cheap brush for under $50, I might go that way to get started, then once I know I like it, pick up a cheap compressor. Is this foolish?
Last thing: I've seen some brushes out there which claim to be gravity/siphon fed interchangeable. Is there such a thing, or is it a case of the brush being garbage because the makers are trying to do too much in one package?
I was a professional illustrator for many years and my use of an airbrush was totally different than painting my mini's with one! I think you need to think what is the first reason you want to get a brush - it may be to do the fine detail work or is might be to quickly base coat/prime/overcoat, etc. In the case of base coats you are simply spraying just like a can of spray paint. I think there could be merit in those that tell you the learning curve would be steep to go from single action to dual action, but that would only be if you were trying to make a single action do tasks it was not designed to do, i.e. small detail work.
I have found some cheap single action brushes in the large general hobby/craft stores and also the cheap freight tool stores. I actually think you will get more use out of a base coating/priming brush first and get down the concepts of mixing paint and cleaning your brush before you move to an expensive type. But, that's just my opinion!
Cans versus compressor? Once you go airbrush with the flexibility you will never go back to a can of spray paint!! I am not sure how expensive the cans are nowadays, but I do know you won't be able to paint much with a can. I recall being able to paint about one 1/35 scale tank with a can, so a troop or two of troops could suck up a can pretty quick. Here is a quick search for cheap compressors at Harbor Freight...
Oilless Air Compressors
For the extra ten bucks, I would go with the standard type and not the airbrush model - you will get a lot more flexibility. Heck, you can even use it to inflate your tires, blow out your garage or use a nail gun and other pneumatic tools, too!
What about something like this (Clicky!)? Sounds like what you're talking about. So you think I should start with that and move up to something better down the road?
That is the perfect learning tool and you will be amazed at how much use you will get out of a simple, inexpensive brush like this. It does not come with a large and small needle and tip for small detail/large coverage, but that is OK - just play around and see what works best for the brush.
Good luck and welcome to the world of fast primer coats and cool detailing!!
Thanks again for the advice! I think I'll order that one.
Regarding compressors, I saw a good, cheap one for $50US at a store in town, but it only had a 1-gallon tank. There's another for $75 that I think had a 3-gallon tank. I'm guessing the 3-gallon tank would make more sense. How fast do you think I'd go through the air in a 1-gallon tank? I'm looking to run the compressor itself as little as possible, keeping it in an upstairs bedroom.
Unless you have other plans for the compressor, like other larger pnuematic tools, impact guns, etc. the 1 gallon will suit the airbrush fine. I use a 1 1/2 gallon for my airbrush and at the low psi (15 - 20) you run an airbrush, it will not run too long because the small tank fills so quickly. It will come on for a very short time when you spray for more than 20-30 seconds, I would guess. A larger tank will run much longer to fill than the smaller tank, but the larger tank will spray longer before it has to switch on.
I have a large high-end 8 gallon I use for all of my other air stuff in the garage, but my portable 1 1/2 will run every nail gun I have, fill tires, inflate stuff and is just a lot easier to tote around.
I am a very tool-oriented person and have A LOT of tools and hardware. My philosophy has always been to avoid buying something just for one job, unless the time it will save you is a no-brainer. As long as the tool has other uses beyond one purpose (as a compressor does) it will pay for itself in lots of other ways and you will be very glad you have it. Hopefully, the compressor comes with an accessory bundle that has a hose, tire chuck, filler nozzle, quick connect fittings, etc. If the cheaper one does not, then consider the larger one, as it probably should. The only other thing you will need is the adapter fitting to go from the 3/8" hose to the smaller size for the airbrush airhose. You should be able to find this where you get the airbrush, or possibly the hardware store. I have my old airbrush hose with this fitting and the compressor hose quick connect (the quick connect is under $2.00 or should come with your compressor) so I can quickly connect any tool I need and don't have to unscrew anything.