Review by
Brad Leisdon

Another "quick" AB review/ H&S "Infinity"... (as posted on the Clubhouse modeling forum)

Okay, first things first... Hopefully you by now realize that the word "quick" in the thread title is used a bit "tongue-in-cheek"... :wink:

Second, I'm just another dude who uses an airbrush. I have absolutely no interest the "commercial" aspects of any given product, regardless of maker, seller, whatever (not to imply that anyone else does)... Just my unvarnished opinion. Your mileage may vary. As I've said elsewhere, at the end of the day, any particular piece of equipment can only be used as well as the user can comfortably use it, and all the technical specs, nifty features, and "curb appeal" mean nothing if YOU, the purchaser and user, can't get it to do what you want better than what you already use... With that said, here we go...

I first heard of Harder & Steenbeck (H&S hereafter), and their "Infinity" airbrush about a couple years ago (thanks to another CH member, sorry, but I forgot who) and started doing some research on them. They're a German company, who pretty much make nearly every airbrush to come out of Germany. Some of our European members have been using their stuff for quite a while, and "Boo" to them for not sharing their "secret" sooner! :wink: I was on the market for something a little more "detail capable" than the Iwata HP-CH I had, and just couldn't get "comfy" with the Sotar in my tool box for long painting sessions... Fully prepared to buy an "Infinity 2-in1" (more below) at full retail, I lucked onto an ebay sale, and scored an "Infinity Solo" with an extra needle, and "FPC" (again, see below) installed for $150... I should mention that retail prices are $199 for a "Solo" and $258 for a "2-in1"... Also keep in mind the one I'm reviewing was sold as "Used", but when I opened it, it was immaculate... After finally getting some quality time with it, I can safely say...


I LOVE THIS AIRBRUSH!!!

For me, painting with this gun was like putting on a well broken-in pair of shoes... No learning curve, no fiddling to find "the sweet spot", just load it with paint and GO!!! Why? Well, I can't really answer that in a "tangible" fashion. What I'll do instead is run down the features of the 2 different "Infinity" models, and you can determine if they interest you...

First, the 2 models are actually the same AB, it's just that the "2-in1" comes with a "detail" and a "coverage" needle/nozzle/cap assembly (detail and coverage being my terms), whereas the "Solo" comes with ONLY the "detail" set-up... What makes this so special? Imagine if someone took an "Aztec/Testors" airbrush, with changeable "tips" for different applications, but used a more traditional metal body, trigger layout, and incorporated some features that improve how easy it is to clean, disassemble, and reassemble...

The "2-in1" comes with a body that incorporates their innovative "Quick-Fix" tail piece (more below), a threaded, top mounted paint cup receptacle, and the following-

A .5ml paint cup (comparable to Iwata "C" models), a .4mm needle/nozzle/cap set, for broad coverage and a .2ml paint cup (comparable to a cupped Sotar, or Iwata "B"), with a .15mm needle/nozzle/cap set-up... (Iwata CM-A users take note- this is .03mm smaller than a Custom Micron-A!) Why is this different from other "standard" airbrushes that allow you to switch "guts" to get a smaller or larger spray pattern? Well, these were made to be switched, and the pertinent seal that you would need to replace on an Iwata is integral to the nozzle, and is easily identified by how many grooves are machined into its base, and those grooves are duplicated at the back end of the needles, meaning you can readily tell them apart... Speaking of "nozzles", the H&S nozzles, by design, are substantially larger than any others I have seen, meaning less time scrubbing around on the floor searching for one you may have dropped, like you would with most other ABs...

The "2-in1" also comes with what they call a "Distance Cap", which is a piece that replaces the (standard) "horned" needle-protector cap. Both of these, as well as the tip cover are "press-fit" on the nozzle cap, for speed of switching and ease of clean-up! No threads, yet they remain in place very well due to spring-like tension... The Distance cap allows you to basically keep the AB a set distance from the work surface, allowing for ultra consistent lines... That being said, it would have very limited use on figure kits, and would be most useful in illustration apps...

Also standard (as of this writing) is inclusion of a "quick-connect" fitting for your air hose, which are threaded to the same size as Iwata products... "QCs" are nice, especially when switching ABs on the fly from a single output air source, and are becoming standard on a lot of painters' set-ups... Male goes on the AB and female threads onto the hose... That being said, if you are using a "2-in1", or an upgraded "Solo", you probably won't be switching ABs very much... :wink:

The "Solo" model eliminates the "Distance Cap", the larger paint cup, and the larger needle/nozzle/cap assembly, but is otherwise identical, and all parts from the "2-in1", and any other H&S aftermarket parts will work here too...

About the "Quick-fix" tailpiece... Anymore, nearly all "competitive" ABs come with a tailpiece that incorporates a "trigger stop", which, in theory, keeps the user from blowing too much paint out of their gun... Iwata HPs have them, Sotars, and now the "Renegades" do as well... Why are the H&S ones better? I'll try to explain- The "Quick-fix" part, instead of the standard "threaded knob", with micro-sized threads that simply screws forward into the tail of the AB, is a 2 part deal that you press in from the very back end, kinda like a "Clickit" pen... You press the chrome button "in", and from there adjust your line size... Just paint away as usual... If you get a clog, or just need a bigger spray pattern, there is a gold collar right in front of the button (relatively speaking). Simply pull on the collar, and you are back to "wide open"!!! Want your previous setting? Just press the chrome button again, and there it is... I have found that I really don't use this feature on other ABs, mostly because you need to spin the threaded part all the way back out to get the needle setting at "wide open", which can be tedious, but with the right mixture of paint, ambient temperature, humidity, and behavior of your resident AB gremlins, this feature has a lot going for it...

One other feature very much worth mention is the trigger/back-lever assembly.. If you've read my review of the "Velocity", you'll know I gave it huge props for having a "captured" back lever... Well, the "Infinity" ABs tackle this problem a little differently, but even better!!! On these, the trigger shaft and the back lever are 2 separate parts, but are built together, meaning that when you pull the needle from the AB, and wish to remove the trigger, the back-lever is permanently attached to the trigger... No more losing it on the floor or carpet... Also of note on the trigger is the "bearing surface" of the air valve... It is a complete sphere, integral to the trigger post, entirely chrome plated, and nothing could be smoother!!! Just another detail that usually gets overlooked...

Okay, that's either model out of the box, but wait (to quote Billy Mays), there's MORE...

Looking for really big coverage? You can buy a .6mm needle/nozzle/cap assembly... Wimpy little .5ml cups not holding enough paint? Get the larger (up to commercial paint gun sized) gravity cups, or, you can thread a bottle feed assembly onto the paint cup receptacle... Only need a tiny bit of media? ?Well, you can get the "Micro-Cup", which essentially just fills the threads on the paint cup receptacle, giving you the paint-well of a Sotar "Illustrator" or Iwata "A" model...

Honestly, think of this thing like a "Swiss Army Airbrush"... It can and will do it all... That being said, all the "bells and whistles" do not come without a price, BUT, if you get yourself a "2-in1" out of the gate, most figure modelers should have all their bases covered, and for a good chunk less than buying one Iwata model, depending on where you get it...

Now, a couple other things... Maybe drawbacks, but I don't think so... First, the tailpiece is machined aluminum, making it a good bit lighter than comparable Iwata and Renegade (though not the Sotar) models, giving it (depending on configuration) a "front heavy" feel. It wants to lean forward in a standard "table top" airbrush holder, but not "problematically" so...

Second, there are an abundance of rubber and teflon seals that reside in the AB body itself, and at nearly every threaded connection... After looking into it a little, and being questioned by fellow modelers about it, I'll say this- If you have ever owned any somewhat "fragile" piece of electronics, you are by now familiar with the label that says "NO USER SERVICEABLE PARTS INSIDE!!!"... Both Iwata and Badger basically tell you the same thing- We don't trust you to fix your own stuff!!! And, for the most part, with good reason.... H&S, on the other hand, will tell you how to get them apart, strip them down to factory components, and get them back together... Is that better or worse? Well, I can't tell you that, but I do like that you can troubleshoot and FIX your own equipment without sending it back to them... If nothing else, it helps keep you from goofing it up again once you determine what you did to it!!! As for the seals, as a couple guys asked me about them, well, given most of the paints and solvents that figure modelers will be running through them, time is a bigger enemy than chemicals. From a common user standpoint, the only ones you should ever have to deal with commonly are the ones on the nozzles (which are integral) and the gaskets on the color cups...

Now, about the "FPC"- It stands for "fine pressure control", and does basically the same thing as the " MAC" valve on an Iwata "Hi-Line" model, but is installed "after market" (for around $30), and is universal to ALL H&S models, including Grafo, Evolution, etc... Turns out, "auto" guys have been using this feature for years, assembled from stuff lying around in the shop... Iwatas incorporate MACs into the body castings of their Hi-Lines, and have recently (since the intro of the H&S model) made them available as a "retro-fit"... Sooo, on an Iwata Hi-Line, the control is a very finely threaded "knob" at the front of the AB, whereas the H&S, and all "retrofits" go between the air hose and "air chuck" (where the hose threads onto the AB)... The H&S gives you 20% air to full pressure from the air source output, where some of the retrofits, and Iwata's integral MAC give you 0-100%... The difference? Well, you will get a "finer" air control from the MAC, or SOME of the retrofits, BUT, it takes several revolutions from the "knob" or screw to get there.... The H&S, while not quite as fine of an adjustment, gives you its entire range in less than one turn, meaning it's much easier to get it where you want it quickly, much like the "Quick-fix" tailpiece. To be completely honest, it is yet another feature I don't find myself using all that much on other ABs because of how they work, but I see a lot of potential with the FPC set-up...

For me, when painting, it feels just a bit front heavy, with the length from trigger to tip being the longest I've tried yet... That may not sound entirely positive at first, but that length means (for me) being able to get away with just using my wrist to follow complex contours, instead of my whole arm, like I would have with a Sotar... Hehe, I've pulled the finest lines I EVER have with this gun!!! Out of the box, its feel, both in "down" and "back" trigger tension is somewhere between Badger's slack, and an Iwata's "snug"... Once you get air to it, any "slack" just disappears! It's just "right there", where you need it... So much so that I wondered if something wasn't wrong at first... I can "beat" just about any airbrush into submission, and usually that's what it takes, so when no "beating" was required, well, it was kinda disconcerting... Don't let that fool you though, It's a great piece of equipment, and I would recommend them whole-heartedly to anyone on the hunt, especially for one AB that REALLY CAN do it all!!!

If the "Velocity" is a Chevy 454SS, and Iwatas are "Lexuses(?)", well, it has to be said, H&S are like Mercedes SUVs... They can do it all, and all things well!!! (For me anyhow)...

PS- Thanks for toughing this out!!! If this coulda been shorter without selling the H&S short, it would have... Hope it helps...

Brad (aka Bubba)

 

PRECISION GERMAN AIRBRUSH HOME