In the middle of a press briefing, a Sony representative plunked down the new Party-shot dock, with one of the company's two new Cyber-shot cameras parked in it. It automatically began to whir, rotate, tilt, zoom, snap and flash in our faces. And we began to go through what we retrospectively realised were the five stages of grief.
- Denial: They're joking, right?
- Anger: Do they think people are that desperate for party photos and so lazy they can't be bothered to shoot them? Are the social aspects of photographing friends and family so trivial that a robotic dock, as likely to wrongly detect and shoot a chair as to shoot a real face, can replace a human photographer?
- Bargaining: I'll say anything you want. JUST PLEASE STOP THE FLASH.
- Depression: Maybe we're just too old, anti-social and camera-shy to appreciate what a major advance in lifestyle photography this is.
- Acceptance: We suppose this could result in better photos of drunk students, since they won't be affected by alcohol-induced hand shake. And toddlers and cats will think it's a toy and be transfixed by it, providing endless minutes of entertainment. Plus, with the simultaneous video out, it could conceivably be a hit at small gatherings.
For what it's worth, the Party-shot runs on AA batteries and can keep going for 10 hours, although your camera battery will run out far sooner, thanks to the constant power-draining zooming. You'll be able to control rotation angle, shooting frequency and flash. Available tilt angles will depend on the camera model. It will initially only work with the two new models, the Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 and DSC-WX1, although we're sure Sony's future ultra-compacts will know the joy of Party-shot compatibility too.
UK pricing and availability is yet to be announced, but it will be going for $150 (£90) in the US. Click through our photo gallery to feast your eyes further on this contraption.