EDIT: After seeing the replies to yesterday's Warp Report where I had the original question, my approach to brushes is obviously lacking.
Here's what I use to paint my models with. There are lots of brands and types out there, you just need to find what works best for you. Here's what this post is not about... I won't be going over how they're built or how to keep them clean. Only because I don't concern myself with how they're built and I wash them all out with water anyway.
I can tell you that my brushes are like my paints, I use whatever it takes to get the job done and I don't have a specific brand or model I use exclusively.
I do use small brushes though, as small as I can get my hands on without having to order them online. I swing by my FLGS (Game Vault) or a local hobby/craft store and see what I can find. It can be tough sometimes since a lot of stores don't take care of the tips and most brushes are already damaged before I can even get my hands on them.
I think of my brushes as being disposable. I use them for as long as they work and then they get downgraded to something like drybrushing or gluing and then pitched out. I have a heavy hand when I paint, so my brush tips tend to bend much sooner than most do. And I paint lots of stuff as well so they're only going to hold up for so long in my hands.
So let's get right to it then.
Some of the brushes in the pictures have seen better days (their tips are destroyed) and have been downgraded already. I've included them in their original categories though so you can see the variety of brands I use.
Detail work (Top to bottom)
000 American Painter (I think... the markings have rubbed off)
18/0 Loew-Cornell 7000 Round
18/0 American Painter 4350 Liner
Insane Detail The Army Painter
000 Windsor Newton University Series 233
These are for the tiny stuff, things like freehand, line highlighting and adding all those fine details to models. I also use these for painting small areas on models. These are my "work horses" and get the most use without a doubt.
For some reason, I'm not able to find the Windsor Newton brush anymore around my area so I've been forced to find and use other brands these days. As for the Insane Detail brush, the tip is a bit long for my taste, but it gets the job done without problems.
Medium work (Top to bottom)
3/0 American Painter 4650 Spotter
3/0 M.Grumbacher Golden Edge 4620
10/0 American Painter 4650 Spotter
Precise Detail The Army Painter
These are for larger things like painting sections of armour, adding washes to small areas... anything I don't want to put mileage on my Detail brushes with.
I will use my Detail brushes in this category once their tips are shot and I can't use them for fine detail work anymore.
Big work (Top to bottom)
4 American Painter 4000 Round (top three brushes)
3 American Painter 4000 Round
These get used for all my big stuff. Things like base coating a model, adding a wash to everything, painting large surface areas. etc. Anything where I don't need to be careful with my brush strokes.
Odds and ends
I have a handful of other brushes lying around that I use for things like drybrushing, adding glue to bases, etc. They are whatever I can get my hands on and I'll use them until they're destroyed.
This is also the category my brushes go to when they're "destroyed" and can no longer function in their primary role.
There you have it.
If I were to guess, I would say that a brush will last me a little over a month depending on how much painting I'm doing (as opposed to converting). Once they start to deteriorate, I downgrade and pitch them just like I do with my X-Acto blades.
Most of the brushes shown above run around the five dollar range. I don't have any super expansive brushes in my collection. I'm just too hard on them and I can't bring myself to drop tons of money on real expensive brushes. With as hard as I am on them, I'm lucky to get the time I do out of them.
Follow-up Post: Part 1 of caring for your brushes
Additional FTW related links:
Brush Care: What to do, by The Painting Corps
Brush Care: Cleaning by N++ Wargaming