Q. Many camera and video rental stores offer a movie-to-video transfer service costing up to 10 cents per foot, supposedly using high-tech converters so no flicker occurs. However, some camera houses offer a video converter for $29.95 so you can transfer your own movies and do special effects. The question is, what is the advantage of professional transferring compared to do-it-yourself?

A. In a situation as specialized as this, I would prefer to have professionals do the job. They have the equipment and the expertise. This is the kind of thing that most of us would face only once -- 8mm movie shooting just isn't as popular as it used to be. The professional results I've seen are great, and well worth the investment.

As far as the inexpensive converters go: I have never tried one, so I called one of the sales people at my favorite camera store. He sighed and explained that they don't carry those devices any longer. There were too many customer complaints.

Among them were internal reflection that caused soft focus, vibration and problems with focusing.

Most people wanted their money back.

I suggest that, should you decide to buy a converter, you make sure that you have the right to return it for a full refund. If the seller won't stand behind it to that extent, forget it. BEGINNING PHOTOGRAPHY

Q. I am a beginner in the field of photography. Unfortunately, my present situation doesn't allow me to have hands-on experience. So I try to get all I can out of magazines and your weekly column.

My question is, where can I order books that will help me with the basic knowledge of photography until I can get that hands-on experience. I need some books that will treach me such things as how a 35mm SLR works, how film records image, exposure of film, functions of lens and shutter, etc.

A. As to books, I would recommend two: The Photographer's Handbook, Second Edition, by John Hedgecoe, and The Master Guide to Photography, by Michael Langford. Both are published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. They are available at area book stores for between $15 and $25, but do some comparative shopping.

As to the hands-on experience: That's the easiest thing in the world. Put some film in your camera and go shoot pictures.

Make a list of subjects that you can shoot and do one after the other. Make that list varied. Try some shots of construction work -- new buildings are going up all around us. Shoot some flowers, trees and garden pictures. Shoot some sports. (You don't have to go to the Capital Centre -- shoot high school sports. Sometimes you'll find those games more photogenic than the pros.) Make some portraits of your family, both outside and inside with just lamp light.

Then, think about setting up your own black-and-white darkroom. It's the next step. SENIOR SHUTTERBUGS

Entries in a photo contest solely for camera buffs over 60 are now being accepted by the Charter House of Silver Spring.

Seniors can compete for a trip to Florida, a banquet, photographic gift certificates and award ribbons.

Categories are: pictorial (any subject, especially those that do not qualify in other categories); nature (plants, animals and scenic views); portraits; architecture; close-ups; and abstracts. There will be awards in all categories for black-and-white and color. There is no charge to enter.

The contest will be judged by members of the Greater Washington Council of Camera Clubs, including members from the NIH and Bethesda camera clubs; Holiday Park Multi-Service Senior Center; and the National Audubon Society.

Photos must be submitted by June 14; judging is the following week. Winners will be announced at an open reception on June 21. Winning pictures will be on display through July at the Charter House Activity Center. Entries must be delivered or mailed to the Information Center of the Charter House, 4th floor, 1316 Fenwick Lane, Silver Spring. Md. 20910. For more information, call 495-0700.