Going full HD is certainly not cheap. Having a thorough research and technical understanding of your own requirements are crucial since different products have different codecs and capabilities
As for the setup ups. The pictures are a bit on the extreme side for some but is necessary none the less. You will know once you are in the field. I've used the PAG shoulder mount for the PD170P and it was really useful to handle is more or less like an ENG shoulder type cam.