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Zoom: Which came first, the noun or the verb?


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#1 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 01:13 AM

I've read that the first widely used zoom lens in broadcasting was a lens
manufactured by the Zoomar Corp. in the early 1950s and sold to NBC Television.

Although there had been variable focal length lenses made for motion picture film
cameras well before this time, apparently zoom lenses really didn't take in films
until the early 1960s (at least as far as I can find out.)

I guessed that the term zoom lens must have come from Zoomar. However, in
doing some research, it seems that the word "zoom" has been around since the
19th century as a verb.

So, when the director tells you to zoom in, is that derived from the Zoomar lens being
able to change focal lengths or from the meaning of the verb "zoom"?

I don't know how Zoomar Corp. came to have its name. Maybe that would explain
something.


Also, does anybody know the first film in which a zoom is used to change focal lengths
during a shot? Also, if the answer to that is some obscure film (as I believe that the
first zoom lens for motion picture cameras was for a 16 mm. camera) does anybody
know the first 35 mm. movie in which a shot changes with the use of a zoom lens?
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#2 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 05:56 PM

Also, does anybody know the first film in which a zoom is used to change focal lengths
during a shot? Also, if the answer to that is some obscure film (as I believe that the
first zoom lens for motion picture cameras was for a 16 mm. camera) does anybody
know the first 35 mm. movie in which a shot changes with the use of a zoom lens?


'Scipio Africanus' 1937, executive producer Vittorio Mussolini.

It was a Cooke 40-120mm, box shaped.

'The Golden Turkey Awards' has a still of the senior Mussolini looking through the finder of a B&H 2709 with the Cooke.
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#3 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 08:01 PM

I'm assuming Zoomar took it's name from the word "zoom"
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#4 e gustavo petersen

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 09:09 PM

I love etymology.

First usage dates back to 1886 of echoic (or onomatopoeic, e.i. words that imitate natural sounds) origin.

Gained popularity around 1917 as aviators began to use it, as to "zoom by".

Zoom lens was adopted around 1936. [From on the OED]

The first industrial production was the Bell and Howell Cooke "Varo" 40?120 mm lens for 35mm movie cameras introduced in 1932 (from Wikipedia). But as you can read in Wikipedia, the first zooms were built prior to this date but they were crude.
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