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Zeiss Terra ED 8x42 review (1 Viewer)

Petrus82

Well-known member
The Zeiss Terra ED has been available for a while now. It is Zeiss' entry into the world of chinese made binoculars and offers purchasers the chance to own a Zeiss binocular for around £350. It is a model that has intriuged me, having previously owned the Zeiss Conquest HD 8x42.


At first glance when viewing the binocular online, the Zeiss Terra ED 8x42 looks quite similar to the more expensive, German made Conquest HD. However, once I took it out of the plastic box it was quite clear this was a cheaper binocular. It feels solid enough and has a good weight to it, although at 690g it is certainly not too heavy. I couldn't help noticing that it just doesn't have the same quality about it that other Zeiss models do have. To be honest, it is completely unfair to expect that same quality given the difference in price.

Zeiss describes the Terra as "an eye-catcher. The modern and attractive up-to-the-minute ZEISS design is available in the colours deep blue and cool grey." I chose the "cool grey" as the lesser of the too evils. I didn't particularly find either colour "eye catching". The armouring on the binocular seems thick enough, but it doesn't feel all that comfortable to me. The body is fibre glass reinforced. They are waterproof and fogproof.

The focussing knob is large and well positioned and has a plastic feel to it. It is wide enough to use with two fingers. I find the grooves to be too spaced out and found it difficult to grip. As a result, my fingers slip off quite often. It focusses from left to right, from close focus to infinity in just under one full rotation. The focussing is very light and smooth. I normally like a fast and smooth focusser but I find it quite difficult to get a sharp picture. One tiny touch of the focussing wheel and the view is out of focus.

Eye relief, at 18mm is excellent for those who wear glasses. For those who don't, the eye pieces extend out rather stiffly. There are intermediate stops but I find it quite difficult to tell where the stops should be. However, when fully extended they stay in place well.

The field of view is nothing special at 125m at 1000m although I don't get the impression that the view is claustrophobic. Close focus is an impressive 1.6m although I could focus to about 1.4m which is excellent. More on this later.

The Terra has thus far received mixed reviews and there has been suggestions that there is a lot of sample variation. The sharpness on my model appear excellent from 20m to infinity. I don't do any formal type of resolution testing but I haven't seen anything that would match this sharpness at this price point. There is a good dose of pincushion and a bit of field curvature. I estimate the sweet spot is around 70%, after which the sharpness deteriorates quite rapidly. The out 10% is unusable, but can be focussed out.

However, I have to say that I find it really difficult to get a sharp image at the close focus end of the spectrum. Maybe it is the fast focusser, but I found it very difficult and two of my much cheaper 8x42 models easily outperformed the Terra in this regard. This was a big disappointment for me as I do a bit of insect watching.

I found the view very contrasty. Chromatic Abberation appears to be very well controlled. It's very good in the centre and still quite modest out to the edges. Stray light management is a real strength. I detest stray light but the Terra is one of the best I have seen in this regard. The colour balance is slightly warm, which I like, and there's a real vibrancy about the colours.

I found the low light performance of the Terra fantastic. I used them in early evening and they really sparkled. I could easily get a sharp image even past sunset. I would say this is a real strength and fantastic considering the price.

In many respects this is probably one of the best £300 models I've tried in terms of the optical performance in the centre of the view. It really is a joy to use. However, as mentioned about the close focus ability was a disappointment. The outer components are a bit of a let down too. I can't escape the feeling that this is a "cheap binocular" with a really plastic feel to it - it even has a plastic/chemical smell to it. It is also a bit of a disappointment that a case is not provided. However, in general terms the Terra is fantastic value for money.
 
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Ramps

Well-known member
Good review Petrus 82. As you reference, build quality and optics cannot rival German made bins, but it would appear to offer good value at its price point
 

Petrus82

Well-known member
I absolutely think they are good value for money. The unit I have doesn't have pin sharp close focus which is a pity, but it could be an issue with this particular one.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Petrus

I have occasionally read on the Forum that some folks need a different dioptre setting for close focus work.

This could apply to you perhaps.

Lee
 

cnick6

Well-known member
Stray light management is a real strength. I detest stray light but the Terra is one of the best I have seen in this regard. The colour balance is slightly warm, which I like, and there's a real vibrancy about the colours.

Try in really bright conditions. I mean like a sunny day with high clouds. I thought it did really well with stray light until i had backlit high clouds against an object. The glare was fairly noticeable to me. I did have the 10x42 model though.

It is also a bit of a disappointment that a case is not provided.

You do realize there is a case. It's just a soft case in the bottom of the box.

However, in general terms the Terra is fantastic value for money.

I thought so too but for the money the Vanguard ED II 8x32/8x42 models are probably a better value in terms of performance/cost, depending on how much you paid for the Terra ED. (I've seen them on sale a few places...)
 

Petrus82

Well-known member
Try in really bright conditions. I mean like a sunny day with high clouds. I thought it did really well with stray light until i had backlit high clouds against an object. The glare was fairly noticeable to me. I did have the 10x42 model though.



You do realize there is a case. It's just a soft case in the bottom of the box.



I thought so too but for the money the Vanguard ED II 8x32/8x42 models are probably a better value in terms of performance/cost, depending on how much you paid for the Terra ED. (I've seen them on sale a few places...)

I've tried them in various conditions and found them excellent for stray light and glare management. I wonder if there's a difference between the 10 and the 8?

I wouldn't call the little black bag a "soft case". It's a little black bag! I think it's still quite disappointing.

I haven't tried the Vanguard ED II so I couldn't make a comparison. I am looking forward to trying them right enough.
 

kkokkolis

Περίεργο&#
Petrus

I have occasionally read on the Forum that some folks need a different dioptre setting for close focus work.

This could apply to you perhaps.

Lee

That applies to me and I discovered it with the Papilio. I guess it is because of presbyopia because it is something new to me.
The smell is dull after a month of use. I didn't mind because I liked it, it reminded me of a new bicycle.
For me it is the best quality binocular I ever had, so your comments make me want to try an upper segment binocular someday to see what it would be like. A Conquest 8x32 perhaps, according to the Cornell Lab review.
I strongly agree with the OP's comment, except that I find the focuser perfect. But maybe there are "more perfect" focusers I haven't tried yet!
 
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SteveTS

Well-known member
But maybe there are "more perfect" focusers I haven't tried yet!

Buy one of these to add to your practical kit :

http://www.vikingopticalcentres.co.uk/this-weeks-offer/viking-6-5x32-md-binocular

Inexpensive, even for shipping to Greece, and an easy daily use binocular but with an alpha+ slick, ball bearing smooth focus for which you will really genuinely struggle to find a rival, the optics and ergos are not too bad either.

In fact you could take the objective covers of these and save them to replace the hopeless objective covers on the Conquest HD that you may buy later.

A win, win, win (Zeiss monkeys excepted ;))



Best wishes,
 
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CSG

Well-known member
United States
I've been quite pleased with mine. Bought them used from a fellow here (and they came with a proper Zeiss case). I like most everything about them ergonomically. The only real rub I have is they tend to have a slightly yellowish cast optically. Of course, I've put them up against my other Zeiss binoculars which is a little unfair as I recall paying about $250 for the Terras. I like them enough that they ride in my Land Cruiser so that I always have something decent to use.
 

Petrus82

Well-known member
I've been quite pleased with mine. Bought them used from a fellow here (and they came with a proper Zeiss case). I like most everything about them ergonomically. The only real rub I have is they tend to have a slightly yellowish cast optically. Of course, I've put them up against my other Zeiss binoculars which is a little unfair as I recall paying about $250 for the Terras. I like them enough that they ride in my Land Cruiser so that I always have something decent to use.

I only noticed the yellow cast when using indoors.
 

CSG

Well-known member
United States
Interesting. I've noticed it most specifically along the river in the Snake River Canyon. It could simply be reflections of the canyon walls. It's rather minor but it is unique to the Terras.
 

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