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Zoomar Long Island
Zoomar 2.8 / 36-82  mm

The Zoomar was not officially an Alpa lens, but some conversions were made.

Designed by Dr. Frank G. Back of Zoomar in Long Island New York and produced by Voigtlander in Germany, the 1959 36-82/2.8 Zoomar was the world's first production zoom for 35mm still cameras. Dr. Back and Zoomar had previously produced Zooms for TV and movie cameras. Looking back today, it's amazing how much he got right from the start. Dr. Back succeeded in obtaining a very useful wide to short tele zoom range, with a fast 2.8 aperture and a convenient single zoom control ring. He not only invented the lens, he invented the term "Zoom" as it applies to 35mm lenses. Prophetically, the 36-82 was introduced to America at the Philadelphia camera show that also introduced the Nikon F and Canon Canonflex to the American public.

Today collectors usually associate the 36-82/2.8 Zoomar with Voigtlander's excellent leaf shutter Bessamatic SLR. Actually the Zoomar was introduced from day one in both Voigtlander Bessamatic and Exakta mounts. Later it was also produced in other mounts, including 42mm screw Contax mount, which would later become known as Pentax Screw Mount. It was introduced in May 1959, but not generally available until 1960. Optically, the Zoomar 36-82 was a great breakthrough, made possible according to Dr. Back by new rare earth element glasses and computer aided optical designs. The 36-82/2.8 used 14 elements in 5 groups (3 movable and 2 fixed). Focusing done by moving the front group of a single element. Standard close focus is 4 1/2 feet, but two close up lenses were available -- the Focar A and B -- which provided focus as close as 10 inches. How did it perform? Not as well as single focal length lenses, but very adequately for its general purpose intentions.

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Here seen on an Exacta, the Zoomar with it's immense collapsible rubber lens shade
The 36-82 Zoomar is hard to find, but the immense collapsible rubber lens shade and mounting adapter is a much more difficult quest. The diameter of the shade is a mere 6 1/8" or 155mm. Complete with hood, Focar and plunger release, the Exakta Mt 36-82/2.8 Zoomar weighs in at a petite 2lbs 6oz. The lens by itself is 1 3/4 lbs. with a front element diameter of 3 1/8 inches.

Notice the large easy to grip controls. The focusing ring barrel so large it actually makes up about half of the lens exterior surface. The large ribbed zoom control zoom ring rides on three chrome posts, allowing zooming with a push/pull motion. The zoom control ring is at about 40 mm. Between the zoom control and the aperture ring is the chrome ribbed aperture cocking lever.

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Once the shutter release lever was pushed (the push button in the right hand pic), the connecting cable stopped down the lens aperture just before the shutter opened. The aperture cocking lever then had to be reset to open the lens to maximum aperture for easy focusing. The aperture ring can not be moved unless the lens to camera cable release is attached. Two chrome machined posts on the aperture ring make for even easier f/stop selection.

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