The Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 binoculars have managed to garner quite a reputation for being affordable, but high-quality, nature binoculars. In fact, for those wanting to head out into nature and start spotting animals (including birdwatching), we can’t think of a better pair of binoculars at this price. But, what do they bring to the table? Is this a great long-term pair of binoculars, or will you be upgrading sooner as opposed to later? We explain all in this Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 review.
- 88% LIGHT TRANSMISSION – SCHOTT ED glass with a hydrophobic multi-coating provides optical clarity and precision in all situations
- COMFORTABLE, FAST FOCUSING – The large, smooth and easy-to-grip focus wheel makes focusing particularly easy and, most of all, quick on a ZEISS Terra ED
Design ; Build Quality
Zeiss is known for producing binoculars significantly over the $1,000 mark, so it was a surprise when they introduced something as affordable as the Zeiss Terra ED 8×42. While you can’t expect the build quality to be similar to binoculars 2-3x the price, these binoculars do boast the typical Zeiss charm and their commitment to producing quality optics.
At the heart of these binoculars, you have real Schott ED glass i.e. extra-low dispersion glass. Without going into why and how, ED glass is much better at keeping light waves together. If you have ever used a cheap pair of binoculars, then you will often find that it is difficult to get the images in focus, or you may notice color artifacts around the outside of your target object. It causes eyestrain, and it is really annoying. This is less likely to happen with ED glass. This means that your images are clearer, and it is much, much easier to focus on whatever you are looking at.
The Zeiss Terra ED boasts the same MC coating that the more expensive products in their range have. This means better quality images through the lens and a lot less reflection. Perfect for nature spotting, as you don’t have to worry as much about the glaring sun impacting your view.
In terms of feel, these are cheaper binoculars. Zeiss is not exactly breaking new ground here. Their binoculars are functional. They have quality grips to ensure that you keep these firmly in your hands when spotting nature, and a solid construction. You won’t be breaking these in a hurry. They feel fantastic to hold. A good weight (just 725g / 25.6oz), so feels great to carry for long periods of time.
A few sacrifices have clearly been made to reach this price point, though. There is a bit of stiffness in some of the components. For example, the hinges on the binoculars do require a bit more effort to move, and the focus wheel is slow to turn. Although, this is to be expected when you buy something at this price. It can’t be perfect, but Zeiss has tried incredibly hard to be perfect with the Zeiss Terra ED.
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Optics and Performance
Let’s give a quick breakdown of the optical specs of the Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 before we discuss them in more depth:
- Magnification: 8x
- Objective lens diameter: 42mm
- Light transmission: 88%
- Twilight factor: 18.2
- Close viewing distance: 5.3-feet (1.6m)
- Field of view at 1000m/1000 yards: 125m (375 feet)
The magnification and objective lens diameter are perfect for getting up close and personal with wildlife. In fact, 8x magnification is right there in the sweet spot for optimal magnification for birdwatching and the like. The 42mm diameter objective lens gives you a great field of view, making it incredibly easy to track fast-moving wildlife with your binoculars. There is a reason why these binoculars have rapidly become must-haves for those wanting to get out there and start spotting nature on a budget.
The real highlight of these binoculars is the lens. The ED glass is tremendous. It lets in a huge amount of light and gives you crystal-clear images. Cheaper binoculars on the market tend to have a bit of blurriness to them. Some darken the image so much that watching nature just feels uncomfortable. The lens and coating combo in the Zeiss Terra EDs keep anything you are looking at brightly lit. it is almost like you are viewing it in person. When these are properly focused, we experienced absolutely no blurriness. The build quality means that they maintain their settings pretty well too, even when in long-term storage.
We love the close viewing distance too. 1.6 meters (5.3 feet) is a comfortable minimum viewing distance for most nature spotters. Some people have reported that you can view comfortably at lower distances than this but were found that 1.6 meters were about the minimum that we were comfortably going. Not that we actually view much at this short of a distance anyway.
While these binoculars haven’t been designed for night viewing, they work surprisingly well. With a twilight factor of 18.2, they come pretty close to the top twilight factor rating. This is all thanks to the quality lens that the Zeiss Terra ED boasts. So, you should have no issues using these in low-light situations, although if you are after something that is better for real night viewing, then these may not be for you. You will probably want something with a slightly bigger lens (Zeiss does offer bigger lenses in their Terra ED range).
All in all, we reckon that the vast majority of nature lovers that pick up these binoculars will find that they perform incredibly well for their needs. They are not going to be as great as the top-of-the-range Zeiss binoculars, but we didn’t really expect them to be. They are just good, solid binoculars in the mid-price range. Good for people that want to spot nature, but don’t fancy putting down thousands of dollars to do so.
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Pros of the Zeiss Terra ED 8×42:
- Top build quality
- ED lenses result in great image quality and good focus.
- Comfortable to hold
- Great for low-light use
- A good field of view
Cons of the Zeiss Terra ED 8×42:
- Focus wheel is a little stiff
- Binocular hinges are stiff
The Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 binoculars are the best binoculars for those looking for something at the mid-price point. That is all thanks to the quality lenses that Zeiss loads into all of their products. Offering Schott ED glass coated with the proprietary Zeiss coating, these binoculars offer crystal-clear images with no blurriness, even when viewing objects at a distance. Are there better binoculars on the market? Sure. But you will be spending 2-3x the amount of money on them. If you want good binoculars without blowing a hole in your bank account, particularly for nature watching, especially in low light, then we don’t think you will find anything better than these.
An optics enthusiast – I love bird watching as well as wildlife. Originally from South Africa, I moved to the UK at a young age. I love reviewing the latest binoculars as well as traveling. I work as a comms consultant during the day. My plan is to travel across the world so building up to that goal.
Last update on 2023-11-09 at 23:18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API