Canon’s lenses are designed to work with Canon’s cameras for a reason. Besides having the right mount, the lens can be autofocused and stabilized with the same manufacturer’s camera. Ditto for Sony, Nikon, Pentax, et al. Adapters that let you use another branded lens are available, but you lose out on the aforementioned features. But if Sony Alpha Rumors is to be believed (and these guys have been on the money lately), Sony is purportedly working on a new E-mount camera with a moving “Z-shift sensor” that can move up to 18mm to focus, allowing the camera to “autofocus” non-Sony lenses when attached via a third-party adapter.
According to SAR’s trusted source, “the sensor is mount on a tray that slide in Z direction. It allows approximately 18mm of focus adjustment. As actuator you have strong piezoelectric servo, this make for rapid movement back-forth if selected that option [sic].” SAR says the system works similarly to the Contax AX film camera from Kyocera (image shown above, video shown below), which uses an AF system that moves the film plane inside the camera to autofocus manual lenses.
What’s the appeal for consumers? SAR says that Nikon, Canon, and Pentax users “will be very tempted to buy this camera.” Lenses are the main reason why people stick with a particular camera brand. The idea is that if you have a large collection of lenses from one of these companies, you might be enticed to switch to or add a Sony camera body for your gear without having to invest in new lenses.
SAR has no further details, nor do we know how effective such a system would be. But SAR gives this a rumor its SR5 rating for “almost certainly correct.” SAR originally published an image of a DSLR-like NEX camera, called the A7000, that was purported to be the “shift sensor” camera, but it’s been deemed a fake.