Since I've jumped into the conversation, I may as well ask a couple of other questions. I'm really more into pastry than chocolate (though I've read nearly this entire thread and I am tempted by much of your work!). I'm also just an overly ambitious home cook more so than any sort of professional. As mentioned above, I've used my Iwata Eclipse HP-CS with a .35 mm nozzle to (very slowly) achieve the velvet effect on a couple of entremets and I once made Dominique Ansel's Marshmallow Apples. That's the extent of my food/cocoa butter airbrushing to date. I'm preparing to attempt Cedric Grolet's Lemons, which I was happily shopping for ingredients for, when I stopped to think about the last time I made an entremet and how darn long it took to color that thing. My smug "I already own an airbrush" quickly faded into "oh crap, I have to make a dozen lemons with that?" So... like many of you, I start digging... and digging... and digging. While I'm not sure I've gained much clarity from a week of digging, I did find this thread, which seems to have the most comprehensive information on airbrushing chocolate/cocoa butter I've found.
I know that many of you are working towards production of some scale, which I'm not doing currently (unless you count 12 lemons as a lot - it is for me), but it sounds like many of you have also worked your way up from starter airbrushes to more commercial equipment, while sampling nearly everything in between. I was starting to think that a small capacity spray gun sounded like a good option, but when I reached out to a vendor to inquire about the Iwata LPH-80 Miniature Spray Gun which has a variety of nozzle size options, I was told that my Iwata Sprint Jet Compressor was not powerful enough for the gun. If I wanted to go with the LPH-80 gun, they suggested upgrading to a more powerful California Air Tools 1/2 HP 2 Gallon Compressor. The also suggested that if I stick with my current, and apparently quite wimpy compressor, that I might try the Iwata HI-LINE HP-TH Airbrush instead, which includes a .5 mm nozzle and some sort of a fan function, though I need to verify that my compressor could achieve that. So a couple of questions:
For anyone else who made the leap from a .35 mm nozzle to a .5 mm nozzle, did it feel like much of a difference? It doesn't sound like a big difference.
There's not a lot of conversation on the web about changing airbrush nozzle size, and where it is mentioned, people seem to act like it's sacrilege (except for with kits), but has anyone else ever tried increasing the size of a nozzle assembly, particularly on an Iwata? They're not super upfront about it, but I kind of got the impression from the Iwata website, that it might be possible if you stay within a particular family of airbrushes (Eclipses, for example). And obviously, it sounds like you'd need to change the needle, the nozzle, and the cap to do it.
I know there's been a lot of conversation about compressors here, and I keep thinking things like "where would I put another compressor" and "I like that my compressor only weighs 8 pounds", but I guess I'm wondering how much of a difference does the compressor really make? Obviously, if a gun won't work with a particular compressor, then you're not going anywhere, but from your experience/what you know about airbrushes and compressors, do you think I would be missing out if I opted for the HI-LINE airbrush to avoid having to buy another compressor too? Would something like the CAT 1/2 HP 2G compressor make that much of a difference in my work vs. what my Iwata Sprint Jet is already doing? (Including a picture of an entremet so you can see what I've coaxed out of it).
If I ever did decide to dabble in the world of chocolate, how critical is the strength of the compressor in achieving shiny, good looking chocolates? I know that the strength of the compressor would impact the speed of the work, but would a weaker compressor like my Sprint Jet actually prevent me from achieving something that looks good?
Lastly, has anyone figured out how to match airbrush/spray gun specs to compressor specs? The more I learn about them, the more I wonder how I managed to buy my compressor and my first two Eclipse guns and have them actually work together (I also have a side feed, I use for non-food spraying). I really have no idea what specs I need to match up to make sure I'm getting a system that works, so any advice would be a start.
Any information anyone can provide would be much appreciated. I'm going in circles here trying to decide what to do.