Zeiss is generally known for their ultra high-end optics, but offer a more consumer friendly price point in the Terra ED 8x32. In our testing these binoculars didn't quite deliver. As a compact binocular they are heavier, less clear, and less bright than the Vortex Diamondback 8x28, which costs less than half as much. You can also get much better optics in full-sized bins in the same price range with the Vortex Viper HD 8x42 and the Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 10x42. That's not to say these are bad binoculars, they're still quite good, they just don't excel enough in any specific niche to be on any of our short lists.
Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 Review
Cons: Much darker than expected, not very comfortable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
As a brand with a quality reputation, Zeiss makes quality products. We found the Terra ED to be darker than expected and also not as comfortable as we would like when held to the face, but this pair has the best field of view in our test.
The Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 starts to live up the Zeiss name when it comes to clarity. In our clarity test, Zone 9 was seen nice and crisp on the ISO 12233 chart with no noticeable chromatic aberration around the edges. We could see some defocusing around the edges.
We were surprise at how dark the Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 was compared to the competition. The Zeiss name has a really good reputation for making good glass. The Zeiss Terra ED are fully multi-coated but the 32mm objective lens is smaller than some of the other binoculars with 8x magnification, which affects the overall brightness.
Ease of Adjustment
The hinge point for adjusting the interpupillary distance is stiff and hard to move. This makes the binoculars stay in place better, but can also make them difficult to adjust. The focusing knob is smooth and focuses fast and easy. The diopter is located on the right eyepiece and is easy to adjust but has no locking mechanism to keep it from accidently moving.
Field of View and Close Focus Range
The Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 has the greatest field of view of the binoculars we tested. You have a view of 404 feet at 1000 yards. It is able to focus on objects just 4.9 feet away, which makes it tied for second place in close focus range.
While testing the Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 we found that the interpupillary distance would put pressure on the ridge of some testers' noses. Not all of the testers found it to be uncomfortable to use, but most did. It provides an eye relief of 16.9mm, which is in the middle of the test group and should provide adequate strain relief for most users. The Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 comes with an UnderArmor harness for strapping the binocular to your chest. This was the most comfortable pair of binoculars to carry because of the ease of access.
These binoculars are designed by Ziess but made in China. As with most of the binoculars in this review, being made in China does not signify poor quality. The binoculars are coated in a thin layer of rubber which makes gripping secure, but it doesn't seem like it would do much to protect from drops or bumps. The front guards for the objective lenses do come off really easily, but are secured to the binoculars so you won't lose them.
The size of these binoculars is smaller than the Vortex Viper HD 8x42. With that in mind, they would make a good pair of hiking or birding binoculars for someone who doesn't want to carry a larger pair, doesn't want to spend the money on a pair of the excellent and compact Leica BCR 10x25, and wants something with better quality than the Best Buy winning Vortex Diamondback 8x28.
At $439 these are priced similar to the Vanguard Endeavor ED II 10x42 and the Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 10x42. Both of those binoculars out-performed the Ziess Terra ED in our test, so we would be hard pressed to say that this pair is an excellent value. However, if you find them on sale, this is not a bad product.
These binoculars definitely cover a niche in our testing group. With the 32mm objective lens, they are smaller and lighter weight than those binoculars with a 40mm objective lens. They are brighter and have a better quality than the Vortex Diamondback but also cost more. They find a nice middle ground between everything that we tested. Our advice would be to try them first since they can be uncomfortable on the face for some users.
— Michael Payne