Zeiss is known for its ultra-high-end optics, and offers a more consumer-friendly price point in the Terra ED 8x32. With a great close-focus range and a wide field of view, they are a good option for close encounters in an aviary or butterfly house. As far as a compact binocular goes overall, they could be lighter, sharper, and offer a little more in terms of brightness. This model, while quite good, didn't eke out a performance in any specific niche to be on our shortlists of award winners.Editor's Note: Our comparison binoculars review was updated on December 6th, 2022. We tested and reviewed four new binoculars, and tested and updated ten products.
Cons: Much darker than expected, not very comfortable
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Zeiss Terra ED 8x32
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|Pros||Excellent field of view||Good clarity and brightness, smooth focus knob||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||Mediocre close focus range, mediocre field of view||Slightly heavy for backpacking||Average construction quality, mediocre low-light performance||Poor low-light performance|
|Bottom Line||Unfortunately these portable binoculars don't live up to their price tag||These perform well for the price, offering a smooth focus knob and decent brightness and clarity||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 M5 8x42||Vortex Diamondback...||Celestron Nature DX...||Vortex Diamondback...|
|Field of View (10%)|
|Ease of Adjustment (5%)|
|Close Focus Range (5%)|
|Specs||Zeiss Terra ED 8x32||Nikon Monarch M5 8x42||Vortex Diamondback...||Celestron Nature DX...||Vortex Diamondback...|
|Multi - Coating||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC|
|Field of View (at 1000 yards)||404 ft||335 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||19.5 mm||17 mm||17.5 mm||18 mm|
|Measured Size (Length x Width)||4.9 x 4.6 in||5.7 x 5.1 in||5.7 x 5.1 in||5.3 x 4.9 in||4.6 x 4.5 in|
|Measured Weight||18 oz||22 oz||22 oz||22 oz||14 oz|
Our Analysis and Test Results
As a brand with a quality reputation, Zeiss makes quality products. We found the Terra ED 8x32, however, to be darker than expected, when compared to similar products, and also not as comfortable as we would like when held to the face. Yet this pair of binos had the best field of view in our tests.
The Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 lives up to the Zeiss name when it comes to clarity in a smaller optic. In our clarity test, Zone 9 was seen on the ISO 12233 chart with no noticeable chromatic aberration around the edges. We could see some defocusing around the edges but we generally thought the clarity was good in this smaller-sized lens, even if it was not as clear as some larger higher-end models.
When compared to the exceptional models that made it into our test group, the Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 was a little less bright. The Zeiss Terra ED is fully multi-coated, but the 32mm objective lens is smaller than some of the other binoculars with 8x magnification, which impacts the ability to capture and transmit light to the viewer — resulting in less overall brightness.
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 some did. So if you have a sensitive bridge of your nose, it would be worth trying these out before buying. The eye relief of 16.9mm is in the middle of the test group and should provide adequate strain relief for most users. The Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 also comes with an UnderArmor harness for strapping the binoculars to your chest, which is a nice co-branding touch.
Field of View
The manufacturer-specified field of view is 404 feet at 1000 yards, and after actual testing, the Zeiss Terra ED 8x32 still maintained an above-average field of view, compared to the group of binoculars we tested. At 353 feet, the field of view is on par with many of the 8x magnification optics that we tested, and still 30 feet greater than the average of the entire test group.
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.
Close Focus Range
The Zeiss Terra is able to focus on objects just 5.3 feet away, an impressive close-focus range that only the Swarovski EL 8.5x42 could match. So if you happen to be visiting an aviary, butterfly house, or maybe you are fortunate to stop at a point along the Monarch butterfly migration, these would be an incredibly handy pair of binos to have in hand.
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 in weight than many, making them a great pair to tote along while hiking. If you find them on sale, this is not a bad product. However, our advice would be to try them first since they can be uncomfortable on the face for some users. Decide if they are right for you or if it is worth exploring other sizes that may be heavier, but offer greater overall benefit.
What Other Binoculars Should You Consider?
Although much larger, the more attractively priced Vortex Diamondback HD 8x42 and the Nikon Monarch M5 8x42, both of outperformed the Zeiss Terra ED in our test. If the compact size is a key feature for you, then look closely at the Vortex Diamondback HD 8x28 which might be the model for you.
— Max Mutter
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