Zeiss Terra ED Pocket 8 x 25 Redux.


Zeiss Terra ED Pocket 8 x 25(China) Package.

A Work Commenced October 1 2022



When the Zeiss Terra ED pockets were first launched, many enthusiasts were pleased to learn that they were manufactured in Japan, but as of 2020, Zeiss moved the production of these units to China, where all of the larger Terra ED models continue to be made. At first, it was the source of some confusion, with some folk chiming in to inform me that their new Terra pockets were marked “Japan,” while others showed pictures of “China” under the bridge. When I made some enquiries, I was first told by one Zeiss employee that they were still being made in Japan, but shortly thereafter they backpedalled, informing me by phone that the new Terra pocket glasses were now being made in China, leaving only their flagship Victory pockets in Japanese production.

A solidly constructed instrument, just like the Japanese-derived model.

Over the last few years, I bought in, tested and evaluated many pocket binoculars from many manufacturers, and inevitably, the build up of equipment in my house meant that I had to gift many of them to friends or sell them on – and that included my Japanese-made Zeiss Terra ED 8 x 25. But after owning and using some top pocket binoculars from Leica, including the 8 x 20 and 10 x 25 BCA models and the Ultravid 8 x 20, I gradually came to accept their limitations, as charming as they are, especially when I began to explore the larger format 8 x 30 and 8 x 32 models. The latter were simply much more comfortable and easier to use, with their bigger eye box and more comfortable handling. And as for optical versatility, the larger 30-32mm formats were in a completely different league to any pocket glass, however sophisticated. A week using my superlative Nikon E II 8 x 30 – my favourite binocular by a country mile – finally convinced me to sell off my little Ultravid 8 x 20 to help recoup some funds(I’m not a collector but an observer), but it did leave a small hole in my modest stable of instruments. I still yearned for a good quality pocket binocular for occasional use, for trips to the theatre and galleries, for travel and exploring interesting buildings in the towns and cities of Scotland and further afield. What to do? It was at this time that I thought I would give the little Terra pocket a second chance, noting that it was still selling at about the same price I paid for my first Terra – £270 – so I took the plunge and ordered a unit up from Cameracentre UK in South Wales.

The China label on view under the bridge.

When it arrived, I was pleased to see that the instrument was presented in the same presentation box my first Terra pocket came in; a sturdy fold-out arrangement, with a lovely presentation of an alpine nature scene. I was equally delighted to see that the binocular was stored inside the same hard, zip-fastened clamshell case, with a magnetic latch to boot. This was a very pleasant surprise, as a 10 x 25 Terra ED model(with a new black chassis) I bought off Amazon in 2021 only came with a soft pouch – hardly enough protection for the instrument, which I returned after not being entirely happy with its optical performance.

A closer look at the large ocular lenses on the Zeiss Terra ED 8 x 25.

The exact same strap was supplied with this new Zeiss Terra ED 8 x 25 too; another good thing, as it is of high quality and perfectly designed to support this small pocket glass(310g). Examining the instrument, I was pleased to see what I had previously observed with my Japanese-made unit. Well put together, with the same grey-black chassis as before. I liked that colour scheme, with the blue Zeiss logo located just ahead of the central focus wheel. I was relieved to see that the double hinge was tight, maybe not as tight as I recall on the Japanese unit, but tight enough. The same immaculate Zeiss multi-coatings were smoothly applied to the ocular and objective lenses, and applying a breath test on a cool, afternoon outdoors, showed that the company’s proprietary LotuTec hydrophobic coatings rapidly dispersed the condensation. Neat!

The wonderful coatings applied to the deeply recessed objectives.

The twist-up eye cups were also working perfectly, rigidly staying in position once clicked into their grooves. The dioptre adjuster – a small wheel located at the far end of the wide bridge – moved smoothly – and once adjusted, I was ready to test the optics.

Beginning with my flashlight test, I directed the light from my Iphone torch adjusted to its brightest setting into the binocular from across my living room to examine the focused image. As I noted with my Japanese model, the results showed very good suppression of internal reflections and very little diffused light around the intensely bright beam but, as before, it did show up a prominent diffraction spike, which was also unfortunately picked up by looking at some streetlamps after dark. No difference between the Japanese and Chinese-made instruments in this capacity. The little Leica glasses were much better in this regard, showing very little of diffraction spikes in comparison.

I never conducted an examination of the exit pupils on my first Terra ED pocket, so was keen to see how they fared in this unit. I’m pleased to report that the results were very good, as you can see below; both pupils presented as perfect circles, with no significant light leaks around them. Bravo!

Left exit pupil.

Right exit pupil

But things turned out even more swimmingly as I began to study the images in bright autumnal sunlight. The view was excellent; bright, sharp, lovely contrast and vivid colours – all the things I had admired in the Japanese-made unit. That’s a consequence of the Schott ED glass used in the objectives and dielectrically coated Schmidt-Pechan prisms delivering an impressive light transmission of 88 per cent. The sweet spot is very large, with only a small amount of softening near the field stops. The view is wide – 119m at 1000m(6.8 angular degrees) – better than on my Leica pockets. I judged the Terra ED’s glare suppression abilities to be very good too – significantly better than my Leica’s, as I remember, with veiling glare being especially well controlled – for a pocket glass at least. The deeply recessed objectives and highly efficient coatings applied throughout the optical train definitely work together here. The quoted eye relief of 16mm is generous enough to enjoy the entire field using glasses, if that’s your thing. It’s also water and fog proof, making it suitable for the most adverse weather conditions Mother Nature is likely to throw at you.

If I’m being honest, the large focus wheel on the Zeiss Terra ED 8 x 25 was, if anything, a little smoother than on my Ultravid 8 x 20. Just over one full turn clockwise brings you from closest focus(~ 1.9 m)  to beyond infinity. Indeed, the wheel moved further beyond infinity than many other binoculars I’ve tested. Surely that means that with a bit of clever tweaking(which can be done!), the focuser can be re-adjusted to render the close focus even shorter, but that’s for another day.

Comparing the Nikon E II 8 x 30 to the Zeiss Terra ED 8 x 25(right).

In good lighting conditions, and taking into account its considerably smaller field,  the Zeiss Terra pocket throws up very comparable views to my Nikon EII 8 x 30, with broadly similar levels of contrast and sharpness. Colour tone is noticeably warmer in the little Zeiss Terra though, and following the course of a long, straight section of country road, the compact Nikon Porro easily showed greater levels of contouring(stereopsis), as I expected from its more widely spaced objectives. This is a quick and easy way to see the advantages of Porro prism binoculars over their roof prism counterparts. The fact that you can more easily discern the bumps and depressions in the road is proof enough that the Nikon shows more spatial information than the little Zeiss roof prism binocular.

Another significant difference between the models is comfort and ease of viewing; eye placement is a lot more finicky with the Zeiss, requiring the precise alignment of one’s eyes with the barrels, and the smaller exit pupil requires a little more skill to find a satisfactory viewing experience. But a 3.1mm exit pupil is much easier to engage with than the 2.5mm pupils on my Leica glasses. None of this was an issue with the little Nikon 8 x 30 though: you simply bring it to your eyes for instant gratification, and drink up the enormous 8.8 degree field in all its optical glory! Having said all that though, I was very impressed how well the little Terra handled the affair. It’s a pocket binocular after all!

A quality experience.

So, in conclusion, should I be worried about the fact that the new Terra ED pockets are made in China? For me, the answer to that question is definitely no. It’s every bit as good as the Japanese unit I once had. Properly looked after, it ought to give many years of service. After all, it’s still a Zeiss binocular; and you can tell that from the instant you gaze through it!

Happy Camper!


Neil English has tested more pocket binoculars than you could shake a proverbial stick at. Find out more from his up-and-coming book: Choosing & Using Binoculars: A Guide for Stargazers, Birders and Nature Enthusiasts, published by Springer Nature in late 2023.



De Fideli.

9 thoughts on “Zeiss Terra ED Pocket 8 x 25 Redux.

  1. Thanks once again Neil.

    I like the Terras but eye placement is its main drawback for me. I’ve been practicing over the last few days to try and get them aligned with my pupils without having to fiddle with them. Optically they’re superb, but this constant niggle might result in me sending them back.

    I’m now looking at 8×32 for a compromise, hence the Hawke Frontier HD X being on my radar. I do love the Nikon Monarch M5 8×42, really sharp edge to edge but the weight was an issue, I could get a bino harness I guess to alleviate the issue but maybe a good 8×32 could be the good compromise?

  2. Hi Neil

    I’ve just got my hands on a pair of Vortex Diamondback HD 8×42 and the Nikon Prostaff P7 8×42. I’ve spent all afternoon testing one against the other and to be honest there’s nothing much between them, possibly the Nikons were slightly sharper edge to edge but the Vortex seemed a smidgen brighter towards dusk.

    The weight of the P7 is big bonus but the accompanying Glasspak with the Diamondbacks would compensate for that.

    I don’t know whether to just keep either one of those or order the Monarch M5’s as I’ve already tested those and was impressed with their edge to edge sharpness and brightness, but the poor FOV put me off.

  3. I’ve had a s look at the P7 8×30 but discounted it from my selection because of glare issues I had with a previous 7s 8×30 which I sold before Xmas.

    The Svbony one is a dark horse I read your review and it does indeed sound impressive, however that nagging feeling of if something went wrong and retuning it to China kinda puts me off,

    At this moment in time I’m leaning towards the Diamondbacks, the one I’ve got had CA when viewing tree branches against a bright skyline but was more than acceptable and not something that bothers/or effects me reallly.

  4. Hello Neil,
    Thanks for your updated review of the Zeiss Terra ED 8×25 pocket binoculars. I’m looking for a binocular that won’t break the bank and has the sharpest close focus qualities as I’ll be using these primarily for viewing the many hummingbirds here at very close range.
    At the moment I’m debating between the Zeiss and the Vortex Viper HD 8×42 binoculars. The Vortex are a bit more expensive… but my needs are for the sharpest, clearest image at very close range. Admittedly these are very different animals… but by narrowing my needs as mentioned above I’ll limit comparisons to that. If you’re familiar with the Vortex and could give me your opinion on a comparison between my two selections I’d sincerely appreciate it.
    Lawrence Beck

  5. Dear Lawrence,
    Many thanks for your message.

    I only have experience with the pocket Terras, and the 8 x 32 and 10x 42 models. I was very impressed with all of these. Schott ED glass, great multicoatings and Lotutec hydrophobic coatings on outer lenses. Razor sharp images and great glare suppression.
    Alas, I have no direct experience with the Vortex Viper but it also has garnered a solid reputation, though it’s light transmission may be a notch below the Terras(88% vs 85%):


    I don’t think you could go wrong with either one, though the Vortex has the better warranty which might be worth the additional cost.

    Hope that helps and happy hummingbird viewing!



  6. I bought a pair of these { 8x25mm} this morning.
    I used a very rare place called a camera shop, remember them?
    London Camera Exchange { Newcastle upon Tyne branch }
    You can actually go in and try them outside before you buy.
    Try doing that on the internet.
    Very impressed with the optical quality that can be fitted in such a small light package.
    These will be used on a daily basis.

    Thanks for the review which helped me in my choice.


  7. Thanks for the review of these little binoculars Neil. When on day walks or birding I use my pair of Nikon Monarch 7 8*42 which was the best I could afford. However when I am out in the Australian bush on multi day walks and carrying all my gear the Monarchs are a bit heavy and more importantly bulky. Consequently I purchased a pair of Zeiss Terra ED Pocket 8 x 25 which are both light and compact. As a pair of feild binoculars I have used and abused them over the last three years and they have stood up really remarkably well to bad weather and being stuffed in the bottom of a pack. The little case has stood considerable abuse, They ae still going strong, I’m really very impressed with them.

  8. Dear Nicholas,

    Many thanks indeed for your message and so very glad the 8 x 25 Terra turned out to be a good move for you. I hold the little Terra pocket in very high esteem. Indeed, it has made the top in my chapter on bargain buys in my new book due out in December.

    With best wishes from an autumnal Scotland!


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