I'm going to suggest 2 types of cameras that you could use as a starting point for your church video ministry's new department. The first one will be a consumer grade camcorder placed at the lower end of your budget, while the second one will be a Prosumer digital camera for those seeking a higher quality church videos. I'm baised towards Sony products, so you will only find camcorders from this manufacturer suggested, but please note that Panasonic and JVC do produce some excellent products, particularly in the Prosumer range.
When buying a church video camera online, make sure you choose the correct system for your country, NTSC for USA, PAL for UK, etc
Low priced church video camera
The Sony HDR-SR12 is High Definition Camcorder that records to Hard Drive, possesses a 12x Optical lens and would be suitable for a church that is mainly interested in recording to Dvd or producing Podcasts and have a very tight budget.
Personally I wouldn't use a consumer camera for Church Video production, because you miss out on basic things like a manual focus ring, white balance, iris control, but if there is not enough money in your budget for a prosumer church camera, then this sony consumer camcorder can fulfil the task of recording videos for DVD duplication or providing overflow coverage or even streaming live church services on the internet.
The X12 optical lens on the Sony HDR-SR12 should be adequate enough for a hall that is about 30m long, but you would need some good lighting to give the small camera CCDs a chance of producing good quality video pictures. Output formats available include composite, S-Video, DV and HDV.
Because this is a last option camera, I wouldn't go into detail of using it as a church video recording device, but it will work perfectly with an affordable video mixer.
Prosumer camera for church video production
One of my favorite cameras that I used to recommend to churches as an affordable starting point was the Sony PD170 DV camcorder, this camera was very popular in the broadcast industry for producing good quality fly on the wall documentaries, had a huge following in both wedding video circles as well as corporate production, but is no longer available new, though you could find used ones on Amazon, Ebay, etc, I don't like buying church video cameras second hand since you might not have the full history of the device.
The replacement for the Sony PD170 video camera is the Sony HRV1U, this is a low cost HDV professional camera well suited for a church video department, very portable, has 3 CCDs, a X20 optical zoom, manual controls for focus, zoom, iris, white balancing, every thing a video professional requires including XLR audio connections for sound hookup.
Having used the PD170 camera for many years, and hired the Sony HRV1U a couple of ocassions, I can say that you will not be disappointed in the capabilities of these Sony prosumer camcorders for both church service recordings and field video production (documentaries, etc), and you will be able to afford these reliable Sony products with a modest budget.
If you are thinking of buying the Sony HRV1U camera for church video use, you might want to have a look at the training DVD produced by Douglas Spotted Eagle called 'inside the HVR1' which gives an indept look at the camera and provides tips and instructions on getting the best out of this professional video camcorder.
The church video below was produced using the Sony PD170 DV camera. We had a Paglight portable light pack which helped get better pictures from the low light filming conditions.
What is the best church video camera?
A very cheap full sized HDV Sony church video camera
Tapeless Church Video Cameras
Cheap HD video mixer