What to buy as a first "proper" airbrush is one of those perennial questions that crops up in the Forum. Most aircraft modellers soon outgrow the usefulness of simple spray-guns for anything but the most basic finishes, but the step up to the next level of airbrushes can be as daunting as it is exciting, because it's traditionally involved spending a fair amount of money.
The appearance in recent years of budget airbrushes from the Far East has certainly been a partial answer, but there has been a certain amount of concern raised over the copyright infringements by some of them. Plus, of course, the manufacturing quality isn't always anything like as good as that of major brands. As with everything in life - you get what you pay for...
So, with this as a backdrop, the considerable excitement over the low-cost Premi-Air G35 in a number of online forums, plus of course Scott Lodder's very favourable assessment in Kitmaker's great Airbrush Triple Treat Comparison
were bound to raise an eyebrow - so much so that I couldn't resist buying one to see if it could possibly be as good as everyone was saying.
The first thing to make clear is that The Airbrush Company Ltd. (Airbrushes.com), who have the G35 produced for them, have a long history of making/marketing their own airbrushes and are a major UK vendor of Iwata equipment. They actually market the G35 as a stepping stone up to, rather than a rival to the other products they sell:
"The Premi-Air G35 is much better quality than the cheap copies of Iwata airbrushes and other budget airbrushes, and is suitable for beginners to professionals for all applications. However, for the absolute best performance and control, please consider stepping up to an Iwata professional airbrush, starting with the Iwata Revolution series."
Having now tried it, I have to say their disclaimer almost does the G35 a little bit of a disservice, because it really is a very nice piece of kit indeed - especially for the price.
It arrives in a clear soft-plastic case mounted in a foam insert. The set includes:
The Premi-Air G35 Airbrush
An alternative crown cap for extreme close-up work
A small wrench for removing the paint nozzle
A connection for push-on air hoses
A set of instructions
The G35 has an 1/8 BSP fitting, like Iwata or Harder & Steenbeck models, and is an internal mix, dual action (i.e.both the air-flow and the amount of paint are controlled by the trigger), gravity-feed airbrush with a 0.35 mm nozzle. Construction is very good, with precision-tooled components that look and feel built to last. Straight from the case, the action was smooth with no looseness or "play".
The paint cup is quite generous (2cc or 3cc, depending on whether you go by the instructions or the company website) and comes complete with a cap. I must say I found this excessively tight on my example and, ironically, trying to pry it off could actually spill the contents if you're not careful.
In action, the results were very impressive. I used the G35 straight away with some LifeColor acrylic and, without making any checks or adjustments, found I could achieve lines of 1mm with no problem at all at the first attempt, without resorting to the close-up tip. Control of both the air- and paint-flow was smooth and instinctive, and spray patterns were nice and tight, with no spattering or over-spray. The airbrush is comfortable in the hand, with a well placed trigger and the overall balance is good.
Cleaning is easy, thanks to the shape of the paint cup and removing the needle showed there'd been no residue build-up inside the tip. In further painting sessions after repeated dis-assemblies and cleaning, it's showed no degradation in performance and, for me, the acid test has been using the G35 alongside my Iwata Eclipse and Harder & Steenbeck Evolution (which, of course, have a few years each of solid work under their belts); I have to admit, switching from one to the other, I can't really find any appreciable difference in results (although the Evolution does have by far the best trigger-feel of the three in my opinion). I'm sure an airbrushing expert could expose some shortcomings, but for an average painter like me, the G35 performs amazingly well considering that it costs about a quarter of the price of the other two!
The airbrush comes with a well written set of instructions that give good general advice on techniques and maintenance. Interestingly, the instructions refer to the airbrush as an "SP-35", and a quick search on the Internet soon led to the Sparmax SP-35 (also marketed under the Simair brand) produced in Taiwan. This seems to be identical to the G-35 in all but name. The big difference is the price - SP-35s retail for around £50 to £70 in the UK, which is in keeping the airbrush's fine performance, and makes The Airbrush Company's custom-produced version remarkably good value.
This is a very good airbrush that delivers excellent results at a bargain-basement price. I wouldn't hesitate to use it for even the most complex paint job. The price makes it ideal for newcomers looking to upgrade to their first dual-action airbrush, while the performance makes it an equally good choice as a back-up for anyone who already has a more expensive set-up. Unreservedly recommended.
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