When Time magazine arrived in Washington yesterday morning, it had a full-color photograph of President Reagan being sworn in at the official ceremony at noon Sunday at the White House. To get that cover photograph, Time had to delay the magazine's press run 10 hours and spend about $150,000. Newsweek's cover was a painting of the president with his right hand raised. On the inside was an artist's conception of the swearing-in similar to Time's cover with Nancy Reagan and Chief Justice Warren Burger.

A Time spokesman said the photo -- taken by Time contract photographer Dirck Halstead, who was the pool photographer -- was rushed to National Airport, where a private Lear jet was waiting to fly it to a New Jersey location, where a helicopter was waiting to rush it into Manhattan -- making it to the Time offices three hours and 45 minutes after it was taken.

Kenneth Auchincloss, Newsweek's managing editor, said yesterday that Newsweek had held the issue for the first presidential debates when Time had not. "This event by comparison," he said, "didn't have the same suspense about what was going to be said or happen. It had enormous ceremonial value, but in terms of any suspense, it seemed to us there was very little of that."