Zeiss is generally known for their ultra high-end optics, but offer a more consumer-friendly price point in the Terra ED 8x32. Unfortunately, in our binocular testing, these didn't quite deliver. As a compact binocular, they are heavier, less clear, and less bright than the Vortex Diamondback 8x28, which is around half the price. You can also get much better optics in full-sized bins in the same price range. 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 shortlists.Editor's Note: This product review was updated on January 11, 2022 with additional comparison info and purchase recommendations. Our original version of this review was published in June 2017.
Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 Review
Cons: Much darker than expected, not very comfortable
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|Pros||Excellent field of view||High-quality construction, very comfortable to use, great clarity||Excellent brightness, great clarity, comfortable||Inexpensive, good clarity and brightness||Good clarity, small and lightweight, relatively comfortable|
|Cons||Much darker than expected, not very comfortable||Heavy for backpacking or carrying long distances||Slightly heavy for backpacking||Average construction quality, mediocre low-light performance||Poor low-light performance|
|Bottom Line||Unfortunately these portable bins don't live up to their price tag||Good optical quality, but not the best in the price range||An excellent balance of price and all-around performance with particularly impressive brightness||The most budget-friendly option we've found that offers a good introduction to birdwatching||An inexpensive, small, and packable model that offers surprisingly good optics|
|Rating Categories||Zeiss Terra ED 8x32||Nikon Monarch 7 ATB...||Vortex Diamondback...||Celestron Nature DX...||Vortex Diamondback...|
|Ease of Adjustment (15%)|
|Construction Quality (15%)|
|Close Focus Range (7.5%)|
|Field of View (7.5%)|
|Specs||Zeiss Terra ED 8x32||Nikon Monarch 7 ATB...||Vortex Diamondback...||Celestron Nature DX...||Vortex Diamondback...|
|Multi - Coating||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC|
|Field of View (at 1000 yards)||404 ft||362 ft||393 ft||388 ft||332 ft|
|Close Focus||5.3 ft||8.2 ft||5.0 ft||6.5 ft||6.0 ft|
|Eye Relief||16.9 mm||16.5 mm||17 mm||17.5 mm||18 mm|
|Size (Length x Width)||4.9 x 4.6 in||5.6 x 5.1 in||5.7 x 5.1 in||5.3 x 4.9 in||4.6 x 4.5 in|
|Weight||18.0 oz||24 oz||21.8 oz||22.2 oz||14.0 oz|
Our Analysis and Test Results
There have been some changes to the outer of the Terra ED 8x32 in the form of a rubberized grip, which was absent from the pair we tested. The Terra ED we initially tested is pictured on the left, followed by the updated version, right.
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 to 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 surprised at how dark the Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 was compared to the competition. Zeiss is known for making really 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 helps the binoculars stay in place better, but can also make them difficult to adjust. The focusing knob is smooth and focuses fast and easily. The diopter is located on the right eyepiece and is easy to adjust but has no locking mechanism to keep it from accidentally moving.
Many of the higher-end Zeiss models are still produced in Germany. However, the Terra series is made in China. These 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.
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 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.
Field of View and Close Focus Range
At 404 feet at 1000 yards, the Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 has one of the longest fields of view of the binoculars we tested. It is able to focus on objects just 4.9 feet away, a range that only one other binocular in our review could match.
Should You Buy the Zeiss Terra ED 8x32?
These binoculars definitely cover a niche in our testing group. With the 32mm objective lens, they are smaller and lighter weight than many, making a great pair to tote along while hiking. If you find them on sale, this is not a bad product. Our advice would be to try them first since they can be uncomfortable on the face for some users.
What Other Binoculars Should You Consider?
These are priced similarly to the Vanguard Endeavor ED II 10x42 and the Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 10x42, both of which out-performed the Zeiss Terra ED in our test. For an excellent (and pricier) compact pair, we'd recommend the Leica Ultravid BR 10x25. If you're looking for a compact and more affordable model, the Vortex Diamondback 8x28 might be the model for you.
— Max Mutter
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