Too many video cameras to choose from

I know nothing about buying cameras. The choices are too much for my old brain. I wish to change to high definition with my filming of instructional videos distributed on DVD PAL. I have good light the subject is 2 meters from the camera at all times. The sublect is moved sideways and up and down leaving the camera fixed. A television screen is used as the monitor. I do not wish to pay for functions I don’t need. It would be nice to zoom in and out on ‘auto focus’ and put my hand into the scene without the camera going out of focus but this might be too much to expect. A manual zoom is desired.
MY QUESTIONS
1- does it need to be an expensive camera to get good HD video under these conditions.
2- what specifications should I look for and why.
3- is there a camera that is ideal for me.

I moved this to the camcorders forum as the other forum is intended for digital compact/DSLR cameras.

I’m not sure if there is anyone here that does video production, as most of what we cover are consumer level camcorders. Hopefully someone here will be able to help you.