I don't know much about camcorders, so wanted to ask if anyone knows about a suitable camcorder for me? I'm looking for an HD camcorder with exposure control, audio gain control (this one's crucial - it's the main reason I need it), tripod attachment and a 3.5mm microphone jack, must be fairly cheap, definitely under £500.
Hi cameragirl - if you can stretch your budget a little, you may want to consider the £508 Panasonic HC-V750. It has all of the features you listed, plus remarkable image quality, in-camera 1080/100p slow motion, wi-fi and NFC.
I would second that. I have used my 750 since March this year.
The 750 has four mics and will record in 5.1 surround sound if needed. I use the stereo setting for normal filming. The settings in the camera depend on whether you are recording in 5.1 or stereo. The setup for 5.1 is Surround, Zoom Mic (connected to the lens zoom ) or Focus Mic, for Stereo it is Stereo Mic and Zoom Mic. In both cases the audio level can be set to Auto, Set (AGC On) or Set (AGC Off - i.e. Manual volume control)
If you connect an external (stereo) mic, the settings are different.
Another great benefit is that the 750 has a headphone socket so it is easy to monitor the sound.
It may be useful if you explain why you want good audio control. For example I connect to headphone and low level line outputs using an attenuator cable, so I can now connect into the headphone out on my keyboard and the line out on my Zoom H2 audio recorder. Don't connect directly into the mic input of the camera from a line level source without an attenuator cable.