Design and features
Underwater cameras are by their very nature unsightly beasts — no one is bestowing a "Best In Show" award to the models on display from Panasonic, Canon and Olympus. Agfa's DC-600w follows suit accordingly, but looks even more DIY and toy-like than its more expensive competitors.
The key advantage that the Agfa has is its price — at just AU$199 you can take this thing to the beach without worrying too much if it's damaged. It goes underwater to 10m like the Canon PowerShot D10 and Olympus Tough 8000 and is dust resistant, but there's no shock proofing. That said, the documentation says that the camera can take a small amount of rough and tumble thanks to its durable construction. There's also no optical zoom; instead, you're stuck with 5x digital zoom which we suggest avoiding anyway.
The controls are chunky and coated in a resistant plastic, and the screen measures 2.4 inches diagonally and is a very low resolution unit. Around the side, the batteries and memory card slot in alongside each other (AA batteries and SD/SDHC cards respectively). AA batteries are a bit of a love it or hate it thing — you are either going to love having the convenience of buying replacement batteries from anywhere you choose, or you're going to hate their bulkiness and how expensive repeated recharges become.
Additional features include face tracking and scene modes; ISO sensitivity reaches a maximum of ISO 1600. The sensor only has six megapixels, although in the menus you can expand photos to a resolution of 10 megapixels (interpolation comes into play here). Video recording with sound is also an option, at 640x480 resolution in AVI format.
Performance and image quality
When the camera is submerged, it is quite difficult to see the screen without angling it appropriately. The buttons are fortunately large enough to allow fingers to press them even when the camera is underwater and shutter lag is not particularly noticeable in this situation.
Image quality is decent but not astounding — there's a distinct level of digital artefacting present over areas with lots of detail when zoomed into full magnification. Chromatic aberration is also an issue, as areas of high contrast have large purple halos and fringing around them. Images taken outside the water also display overly saturated blue and green channels, which is presumably to make underwater photos pop, but it does add a bit too much of a Little Mermaid feel to landlubber shots.
For low resolution shots to share online, the AgfaPhoto DC-600uw produces decent images, but it doesn't come close to photos produced by its (much more expensive) underwater camera companions from Panasonic, Canon and Olympus.