Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 Review

When you’re birdwatching there is nothing better than using a great pair of binoculars.

Zeiss is a top-quality binocular brand that bird watchers love. If you’re not familiar with the brand then check out our recommendations for the best Zeiss Binoculars for birdwatching.

Their Terra ED model is a fantastic entry-level offering.

That’s why today we’re going to review the Zeiss Terra ED 10×42.

We’ll give you our thoughts on each area of the Zeiss Terra ED including the:

  • Design
  • Image quality
  • Practicality

This review is quite long so you might want to bookmark or pin it for later. Or if you’re short on time take a look at the pros and cons.

Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 Pros and Cons

  • Waterproof and Fog Proof
  • Wide field of view
  • Great depth of view
  • Close focus under 5ft ideal for backyard birds
  • Excellent in low light conditions
  • Lightweight for the magnification
  • More affordable Zeiss offering
  • Cumbersome Lens covers
  • Short eye relief isn’t ideal if you wear glasses
  • Requires adaptor to use with Tripod

Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 Review

The Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 was first released in 2013 and was a big shale up for the binocular world. Before this Zeiss only made high-end binocular that was out of most peoples price range. The Terra is a more budget-friendly offering but with the same superior quality that birdwatchers love from the Zeiss brand.

1. Design


The Zeiss Terra ED is one of the brands most compact designs. These binoculars measure 4.7x 5.5 x 1.5 inches when they are open. They then slim down to 4.5 x 2.75 x 1.5 inches when they are folded.

I think you’ll agree that at that size these binocular will easily fit in a pocket


The binoculars weigh around 24.5oz (695g). That’s around 1.5lb on their own and around 2 lbs in the case.

That’s surprisingly lightweight for a 10×42 binocular.

Although these binocular are more comfortable to hold for short periods, I’d say they will suit you better if you have a steady hand.

If you plan only be using these mostly at full magnification for long periods I would recommend using a tripod or a window mount. That will prevent shaky hands and arm fatigue from impacting your view.

Outer Materials

The outer chassis is made from aluminum. That helps to keep it lightweight but strong enough to withstand outdoor terrain.

It comes with a textured rubber grip for a solid and comfortable handhold.

The Terra ED 10×42 is available in black, green, and grey chassis.

Centre Focus

The Terra ED is designed so that your index finger naturally falls on the focus dial. That way you can adjust it with ease or requiring too much movement. That’s pretty smart as every second counts when you’re birdwatching.

The focus is very smooth to use but at the same time doesn’t easily slip out of focus.

Switching from close focus to infinity is easy as the gearing ratio allows this with one full clockwise rotation of the focus wheel.

This faster focus makes take a bit of getting used to if you’re more familiar with binoculars that have a slower focus wheel.

Diopter Adjustment

There is one diopter control on the Zeiss Terra ED that will allow you to make adjustments for differences in vision between each eye. The diopter range is from − 3.0 to + 3.0.

You’ll find this control as a thin adjustable ring behind the right eyecup. The adjustment of the diopter control doesn’t lock into place. However, the control is quite stiff, which holds the setting nicely without being easily moved.

Eyes Cups

The eyecups on the Terra ED are firm yet comfortable. You can adjust them by lower and raising them to make them more comfortable to use. You can lock the eyecups in four positions – at the bottom, the top, and in two middle positions.

The eyecups are firm and don’t have issues with looseness like other binocular brands.

The Terra ED is a hinged binocular which means you can adjust the eyecups from 56 – 74 mm apart. That’s a good range to keep a comfortable fit if you have close-set or wide-set eyes.

The actual eye cup is 30mm in size, which may be quite small if you have quite large or deep-set eyes.

Eye Relief

If you wear glasses you’ll find it hard to get the eyecups as close your eyes as those who don’t wear them.

The 14mm eye relief of the Terra ED is quite disappointing as you would want a minimum of 16mm for most glasses wearers.

If you do wear glasses then I would recommend you go for the 8×42 model as this has a generous eye relief of 18mm.

Lens Protection

The Terra ED comes with lens covers for both the objective lens and the eye caps. Lens caps are important for keeping out water, dust and bits of nature such as mud or leaves which can damage your lens.

The issue we found with the Terra covers is that the two separate pieces are a bit cumbersome. That’s not really practical when you’re outdoors. but,  the lens caps are good to protect your Terra binoculars in storage.

2. Image Quality


The system used in the Terra ED is a Schmidt-Pechan roof prism made from BaK-4 glass. A basic explanation is this uses two prisms which are separated by an air gap. One prism flips the image and the other corrects it.

The Abbe–Koenig system is far more superior but result in binocular which are large and heavy which isn’t ideal.

Schmidt Pechans systems can have issues with reflection loss and poor light transmission. The Terra ED gets around this issue with 70 layers of their signature Zeiss T* coating. This consists of a water-resistantrepresents, anti-reflective, dielectric formula.  Keep reading to see the benefits this has for the Terra ED binoculars.

Lens Type

The ED in the model name represent the lens type which stands for Extra-low Dispersion Glass. This type of lens prevents chromatic abrasion, or that weird blurry, rainbow shadow you get when trying to focus binoculars.  You’ll find the ED lens add definition to make images appear sharper, clearer, and brighter, just like an HD TV.

The Terra ED 10×42 has a high-quality Schott ED lens. The Schott brand has been one of the world leaders in specialized glass for over 130 years.

Field of view (FOV)

The field of view at 1,000 yards (meters) on the Terra ED 10×42 is 330ft (110m). That’s quite good for a 10×42 model.

That means standing 1000m meters back you’ll be able to see a width of 330ft (110 m) with these binoculars.

The subjective view angle is 60° which makes these decent wide-field binoculars. That means you won’t need to move these binoculars around too much when birdwatching.

Close Focus

The close focus of the Terra ED 10×42 is 5.3 ft. (1.6 m). However, you can still get great clarity around 4.7ft (1.4m).

Short close focus is ideal for backyard birding and anything under 6.0ft (2m). The Terra ED falls well under this range, so you’ll see your backyard birds with great detail at short distances.

Depth of view

The Depth of focus in the Terra ED 10×42 is good.

That means when you’re doing long-distance birdwatching you won’t need to refocus too much to prevent the image blurring.


Zeiss has added a very slight pincushion distortion to the Terra ED 10x 42. This allows a slight lens distortion that curves the image into the middle of the lens.

This is a great feature as it prevents the roller ball effect. If you find yourself feeling slightly nauseous when using some binoculars, this feature will prevent that.

Color quality

The Terra ED 10×42 has a neutral coating on the prism. This lack of color bias helps to keep colors true to life and increase brightness. The feature is essential for identifying birds by their colors.

The multi-layer coating on the prism helps to reduce color abrasions, which are minimal in the Terra ED.

Low light viewing

The Terra ED 10×42 model has a light transmission of 88%.

That means 88% of the light will get through the prism to make the image brighter. The higher the percentage the better your binoculars will perform in low light conditions.

Anything about 80% is decent and anything over 90% is exceptional (most likely your $1000 binoculars). So the Terra ED performs well in this area.

The 10x magnification will make it easier to see in low light conditions too. This is based on the twilight factor of the Terra ED 10×42 which is 20.5. Compared that to the 8×42 model which is 18.3. Basically, the higher the twilight number, the better the binocular perform in low light conditions.

Good performance in low light means you’ll get a better view of birds at dusk and dawn.


Glare can be a nightmare for obscuring your views when birdwatching.

The Terra ED 10×42 is outstanding when it comes to preventing glare. You’ll find for the price range the Terra ED performs much better than others in its class.

If you plan to do a lot of birdwatching at dawn or dusk you’ll full benefit from this feature. You’ll find the Terra ED binoculars are even remarkably resistant to glare from nearby artificial lighting.

3. Practicality


The Terra ED 40×42 is waterproof up to 100m bar. That’s because the internal structures of the Terra ED are hermetically sealed which makes them airtight. That means they can you can safely:

  • splash with water
  • wear in rain and snow
  • submerge in water up to depths of 330ft (100m)
  • swim in rivers or ocean
  • go kayaking
  • Wear on a boat to observe sea birds

Really with the Terra ED 10×42, you won’t need to worry about being caught in severe wet weather conditions or using them near streams, rivers, or oceans.

The external lenses of the Terra ED 10×42 have a hydrophobic LotuTec coating. This means any water droplets easily roll off the lens in wet weather so your view isn’t obscured.


Fog can be a nightmare for birdwatching, especially if there is sudden unexpected rainfall.

The Terra ED 10×42 is virtually fog proof. That’s because any air trapped inside is dry nitrogen purged. This keeps your binoculars free of any moisture or dust which passes through them.

Remember that this feature will prevent the internal lenses from fogging up. However, the external lenses will still fog if you move from a cold to a warm environment.

Operating temperatures

If you like to go birdwatching during seasonal extremes you’ll need binoculars that can withstand the weather.

The Terra ED 10×42 can withstand cold downs to 5°F(− 15°C) and heat up to  140°F (60°C ). That means these binocular work well during an average Canadian winter as well as a summer’s day in sub-Saharan Africa.

This makes the Terra ED 10×42 ideal for taking with you if you like to take birdwatching vacations.


The Terra ED 10x 42 retail for around $499.

If you find them for cheaper than this, snap them up because that’s a bargain.

Our Recommendation

The Terra ED 10×42 is a bit of a game-changer for binoculars. This model offers all the benefits of higher spec Zeiss binoculars without the hefty price tag.

It’s a great binocular to opt for if you’re looking to upgrade from another brand.

Of course, there are a few drawbacks including the cumbersome lens caps and the poor eye relief.

But really, the value for money with the Terra 10×42 is excellent. You certainly won’t regret investing in these binoculars for your birdwatching hobby.

Pin For Later

Terra ED 10×42 Review FAQ

Where are Zeiss Terra ED binoculars made?

The Zeiss ED 10x 42 are made in china.

But don’t let that send you into a panic that these binoculars are using cheap materials.

Zeiss contract assembly of the Terra ED to China to keep costs down on the buyers’ end. The components of the Terra ED binoculars are all still German-made.

Alternative sizes of Terra ED model

The Terra ED models have a range of 6 different magnifications and lens sizes.

This includes the:

  • 8×25
  • 8×32
  • 8×42
  • 10×25
  • 10×32

For birdwatching, only the 32 and 42 lenses are suitable for birdwatching,

The 10×42 model is designed to have a brighter picture. But other models may provide more crisp images and will be lighter and smaller.

Are 10×42 Terra binoculars better than 8×42?

Binocular magnification is generally down to personal preference. Each model will come with its own benefits and drawbacks.

Both models have the same weight and sizing.

The 8×42 model will provide a bit more stability if you don’t have steady hands.

It all comes down to your preference for angle and field of view.

The 8×42 model will help you see more horizontally, and the 10×42 will help you see more vertically.

The 8×42 Terra ED is the superior option for glasses wearers as it has 18mm eye relief compared to the relatively poor 14mm of the 10×42 model.

What is the Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 warranty?

The Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 comes with a limited warranty when purchased from an authorized Zeiss dealer.

This include defect with the workmanship or materials of the binoculars.

You will need to keep proof of purchase to validate your warranty within the set times frames:

  • Optical/electronic component are under warranty for 5 years after purchase
  • Non-electronic components and accessories are under warranty for 1 year after purchase.

If you don’t have proof of purchase the warranty starts from the date of manufacture.

The Zeiss warranty does not include:

  • Accidental damage.
  • Normal wear and tear.
  • Damage determined to have been caused by unauthorized repair or modification, misuse, abuse, neglect, failure to follow the product instructions or user guide, or improper lens care.
  • Damage caused by natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and combat conditions.
  • Loss, theft, or resulting damages.

You can start a warranty claim for the Terra ED binocular by calling Zeiss on 1-800-441-3005 or submit an online service desk application.

Zeiss customer service is well received in the bird-watching community.

Does Zeiss offer services and repairs for binoculars?

Zeiss does offer services and repairs if your binoculars break or need further maintenance.

Anything that isn’t covered by the warranty will be billed to you.

Zeiss recommends you return your binoculars to them prepaid and insured. They will return your binoculars to you through UPS Ground. Other carriers or expedited shipping are available but a you need to make a request and pay extra for this.

What comes with the Terra ED 10×42 binoculars?

When you buy a set of Terra ED 10×42 binocular this is what you’ll get in the box:

  • Binocular
  • Eyepiece cap
  • Protective lens cap
  • Strap for fastening protective lens cap
  • Carrying strap
  • Bag
  • Lens cleaning cloth
  • User instructions
  • Warranty

Can I buy replacement parts for the Terra ED 10×42?

Yes, you can buy replacement parts for the Terra ED range at Zeiss-approved dealers.

Can I mount the Terra ED 10×42 on a Tripod?

The Terra ED 10×42 doesn’t have a tripod mounting thread. That’s slightly disappointing knowing that tripod is likely to be required when using this Terra Ed model for long periods.

Binoculars from the Zeiss Terra ED series can be mounted on any commercial camera tripod using the ZEISS universal tripod adapter for binoculars. You need to buy this separately from the binoculars at a cost of around $130.

Do they come with image stabilization?

The Terra ED 10×42 does not have an image stabilizing feature.

I would recommend opting for the 8×32 or 8×42 Terra ED models if you have issues with stability when using your binoculars.

Can I take photograph with the Terra ED 10×42 binoculars?

These binoculars don’t have any type of photography feature.

You can attempt to take photos by placing the lens of your phone camera up to the lens of the binoculars.

The quality won’t be great, but probably better than using the zoom on your phone camera.

If you’re after a good setup for taking photos with your phone then you should look into buying a spotting scope with a tripod instead.

Are these night vision binoculars?

No, the Terra ED 10×42 does not have night vision technology.

You will find that they are very good in low light conditions at sunrise and sunset.

Alternatives Models

Let’s take a look at other comparable models for the same price range available on the market.

Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 vs Vortex viper HD

The Vortex Viper HD is a strong contender for the Zeiss Terra ED and in the exact same price range.

The Vortex Viper HD edges it with 341ft field of view compared to the Zeiss Terra ED (330ft)

Both binoculars are similar in weight and size.

The Vortex Vipers are known to give brighter images than the Zeiss terra. This one may be the deal-breaker for you as a birdwatcher.

But, the vipers are prone to blurring and glare, so another point to the Zeiss Terra.

The Vortex Viper is a much better option if you wear glasses as it has an eye relief of 17mm compared to the 14mm of the 10×42 Terra ED.

Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 vs Nikon monarch 7

The Nikon Monarch 7 10×42 is a great alternative to the Zeiss Terra ED for a similar price.

They are very similar specifications. However, the Nikon a slightly larger and heavier than the Terra ED 10×42.

The FOV is slightly wider for the Nikon Monarch 7 model. Plus the 16.7mm eye relief makes the Monarch 7 much more suited to glasses wearers.

I would recommend the Zeiss Terra ED over the Nikon Monarch 7 if you plan to use these for backyard bird watching. The close focus in the monarch is 8.2 ft. (2.5m) which isn’t ideal for watching birds much near to you.

Meopta Meopro HD

The Meopta Meopro HD 10×42 is a great alternative to the Zeiss Terra ED.

The field of vision is 20ft wider on the Meopro HD compared to the Terra ED.

One of the biggest differences you would notice between these binoculars is the brightness.

The meopro lets in 99.8% of the light which is far superior to the 88% of the Terra ED.

Vanguard Endeavor ED II

If you want something a little less pricey than the Terra ED then the Vanguard Endeavor ED II offers similar specs for almost $200 cheaper.

The FOV is similar to the Terra ED as is the weight and size of both models.

The eye relief on the Vanguard Endeavor ED II is 18.5mm which is a much better choice for glasses wearers.

The close focus for the  Endeavor ED II  is 6.6ft which isn’t as good as the Terra ED for backyard bird watching.

How to clean the Terra ED

  1. Use the  Zaiss cleaning cloth supplied to clean off any debris from the chassis.
  2. Remove any large pieces of dirt or debris from the lenses using a soft, dine brush or by blowing. Don’t wipe these off as you risk scratching the lens surface.
  3. Further ingrained dirt can be washed off with plain water or using products from the Zeiss Lens cleaning range.
  4. Store your Terra ED binoculars in a well-ventilated, dry place to prevent mold formation on the internal surfaces.
  5. Routinely clean you binocular to prevent grease or fingerprint marks damaging the lenses.

Safety practices

Zeiss advises you never leave the Terra ED binoculars in the sun for extended periods of time without the protective lens cap.

Extreme exposure to direct sunlight through the objective lens and eyepiece can function as a burning glass and damage the interior components.

Final Thoughts

The Terra ED 10×42 are a great set of binocular for your bird watching hobby.

I hope this review and guide has helped to answer any question you have before buying yourself some binoculars.

At $500 you want to make sure you’re making a good investment. If you choose the Terra ED 10×42 they won’t disappoint. But there may be more suitable brands that are better suited to your binocular needs.

If you have any more questions about the Terra ED 10×42, let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.

Leave a Comment