We have been arguing about a cheap solution for the beginners on a small forum. The main thought there is that you HAVE TO use a high grit finisher to get a good shaving edge, but I don't think thats true. (nearly everyone is using pastes there) I said that you can get a good shaving edge off a 8k stone, with or without some 0,5 paste, and if they desire, they could add a bit of sharpness with 1 micron paste after the 8k, and then finish on the 0,5 micron.
So the question is, can you feel the difference in sharpness (if there is any) between a 8k edge, that has been finished on say 3,1 and 0,5 micron paste, and an edge that has been honed on a 12k stone, and then finished on 0,5 micron paste?
This would be important from a price standpoint, because getting 1-2 pasted strops is much cheaper than a high grit finisher, and is much easier to use too. I am no pro, thats why I ask the more experienced honers, if they can feel a lot of difference between them.
Update: to take out a few variables, lets assume that we use synthetic hones, the 8k is a Norton, the 12k is a naniwa/shapton 16k glass, diamond paste on balsa for sharpening, and crox on felt for finishing.