When a Sony rep plunked down the company's new, unfortunately hyphenated Party-shot dock in the middle of a press briefing with one of the two new Cyber-shot models parked in it, the thing automatically began to whir, rotate, tilt, zoom, snap and flash in our faces. And I began to go through what I retrospectively realized were the five stages of grief.
- Denial: They're joking, right? This thing reminds me of the "SNL" commercial parody Big Red (which I really wanted to embed/link, but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere on the Web) with a blinding flash instead of Viking-head-spewing toxic faux blood.
- Anger: Do they think people are that desperate for party photos and that lazy to shoot them? Are the social aspects of photographing friends and family so trivial that a robotic dock, as likely to misdetect 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 I'm just too old, antisocial, and camera shy to appreciate what a major advance in lifestyle photography this is.
- Acceptance: I suppose this could result in better photos of drunk college students, since they won't suffer from blitzed shooter camera shake. And toddlers and cats will think it's a toy and chase it, providing endless minutes of entertainment. (Though spiritual kin to the Sony Rolly, the Party-shot isn't nearly as amusing a cat toy.) Plus, with the simultaneous video out it could conceivably be a hit at small bar mitzvahs and the like.
For what it's worth, the Party-shot runs on AA batteries and can keep up its creepy, evil task for 10 hours, though 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 announced at the same time, the TX1 and WX1, though I'm sure Sony's future ultracompacts will know the joy of Party-shot compatibility. At least at $149.99 it's not grossly overpriced.