Hi Northern Dragon - it depends on what you mean by "relatively inexpensive", your definition of "good audio and video quality" and where you plan to show your product. Projection on a screen in a theater? Big screen HDTV? YouTube or Vimeo?
For YouTube/Vimeo and a $300 budget, I would get the $249 Canon HF R300
for its headphone jack and amazing 51x zoom. Here is what it can do (watch in 1080p): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuw5ALySuQk
For YouTube/Vimeo and a $400 budget, I would get the $380 Panasonic HC-V700
for its built in video light, larger sensor and mic input jack (with the understanding that it has no headphone jack). Here is what it can do (watch in 1080p): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HytTs9KGQ8w
For YouTube/Vimeo or big screen TV and a $700 budget, I would get the $648 Sony CX580V
, or its waterproof (and stealthy) variant, the $679 Sony GW77V
. Great video performance at a reasonable price. Here is what the GW77V can do:
For YouTube/Vimeo or big screen TV and a $1000 budget, I would get the $798 Panasonic HC-X900
for deep depth of field, or a DSLR/DSLT/DSLM camera such as the $780 Panasonic GH2
for "cinematic" shallow depth of field.
is what the X900 can do, and
is what the GH2 can do (what gaming may be like in the future!).
For YouTube/Vimeo, big screen TV or theatrical projection and a $3000+ budget, I would get the $2995 Blackmagic Cinema Camera
(if they ever ship).
are a couple of examples of what it can do.
I know I'm being a little ridiculous here. As a self-described "noob", I am guessing that you are at the lower end of the budget scale. But, when you're asking for advice, it would really help to know your budget and where you intend to show your videos
I hope this is helpful - and good luck with your project!
BillHybrid Camera Revolution