Close to $50 for the SmallRig QR Base alone, it certainly is not cheap. But you can see that using a drop-in style system does solve a lot of frustrations involved with slide-in plates when working with certain setups.
I've built a few rigs over the last few months, and I got tired of swapping my 501PL plates around. Frustrated, today I decided to grab a few more spares so I don't need to rotate them (and I always seem to lose them). Here's a listing for generic 501PL plates for just $9 dollars + FREE SHIPPING in case you guys need some.
Earlier this week I received an email asking for advice on an inexpensive quick release system to move a video rig from a slider to a stabilizer. Simply because I would have to first suggest going with a Manfrotto 577 Quick Release system, especially if you're already working with a compatible Manfrotto tripod head. Unfortunately the OEM Manfrotto 577 Quick Release base plate + qr plate system runs anywhere from $50-$60 dollars each (seen here).
Manfrotto 577 Rapid Connect Adapter with Sliding Mounting Plate (501PL)
Here's an old video showing you the alternative from Calumetphoto. The Calumet branded QR system looks exactly and works exactly like the Manfrotto 577, except that it only runs $35 dollars full retail.
If you're ever lucky as i've been in the past, you can apply a Calumet discount code bringing the price down for as low as $25 dollars (complete base + plate). Unfortunately I don't have a discount code available now, but it's still much cheaper than the OEM Manfrotto 577.
[UPDATE] CALUMET COMMENTED ON THIS ARTICLE. USE THE PROMO CODE 'CHEESY' FOR $10 OFF/EACH! (good until Feb 18th Midnight)
Serious note here. Last time I posted this article about a compatible Manfrotto Quick Release adapter on the cheap, it sold out around the world. Yes this includes Europe as well. The hype died down when prices went upwards and the item was rarely in stock. You can say that the stars are aligned once again, because not only are they listed as 'in stock', but there's also a nice little discount going on too making it a great buy again. Perfect to stay compatible with your Manfrotto tripods, these QR adapters are great for your new Jibs/Cranes, Sliders, Steadicams, etc. Before they run out of stock again (I'm positive they will be out of stock again), you might want to check out the current price and inventory (below).