Zeiss has confirmed, via a SonyAlphaRumors reader that the newly announced Batis lenses for the Sony FE cameras (a7, a7II, a7R, a7S) feature “Focus By Wire” systems. According to the site a reader named Luke contacted Zeiss about the focusing system, and Zeiss responded
“The Batis lenses have ‘focus by wire’. Like the same innovative focusing features like the Sony/Zeiss FE type lenses. To allow quick and also precise manual focusing with an AF lens, the focusing distance will change according to the speed you turn the focusing ring. If you prefer mechanically coupled focusing rings, the LOXIA lenses might be the best solution for you.”
This means that Zeiss confirms Sony Batis lenses focus by wire, the same autofocus system as the other Sony Zeiss and native Sony lenses for the FE mount.
A “focus by wire” system is a non-mechanical focusing system, meaning that focusing is performed by the focusing motor in the lens. Turning a focusing ring simply sends a signal to the motor to change the focus. Turn the ring faster and the lens steps through focus points more quickly, while with a manual lens there’s a one-to-one ratio between the focus ring and the actual focus itself.
The confusion about the focusing system likely arose because of the naming of the lenses. Traditionally lenses branded “Sony Zeiss…” have been autofocus lenses using a focus by wire system, and these lenses have been announced by Sony. Lenses with just the Zeiss branding tend to be manual-only like the Loxia and Otus lenses.
You can read our coverage of the Zeiss announcement here.
The lenses are available for preorder at B&H.