Open main menu

The Zoomar lens was the first commercially successful zoom lens, created by optical engineer Frank G. Back as an outgrowth of his research on viewfinders and variable focal length projectors for the United States military.[1] A prototype version was used by WCBS-TV on July 21, 1947 to cover the Brooklyn Dodgers / Cincinnati Reds game.[2] The first commercial version was used by Paramount newsreel photographers to cover the 1947 World Series.[3]

In 1949, WAVE-TV became the first television station in the United States, to present a live telecast of the Kentucky Derby. The telecast was the first use of a Zoomar Lens in a television sports broadcast. The lens was loaned to WAVE by Back. Not long after the Derby, WAVE acquired a Zoomar lens of its own, which was frequently loaned to the other stations owned by WAVE-TV.

In 1959 Voigtländer began marketing a version designed for 35mm still photography.[4]


  1. ^ Hall, Nick (April 2016). "Frank G. Back and the Postwar Television Zoom Lens". Technology and Culture. 57 (2): 353–379 – via Project MUSE.
  2. ^ "Fairbanks Reports Favorable Response To First Zoomar Lens Demonstration" (PDF). Broadcasting / Telecasting. July 28, 1947. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  3. ^ "Betty Smith Looks at the South -- Garbo Considers". The New York Times. October 12, 1947. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  4. ^ Deschin, Jacob (15 March 1959). "Zoom Lens For Stills". The New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2017.

External linksEdit