WE HAVE A TIE! The winners in our photo hints contest are Ron McGehee of Beltsville and Marty Handle of Bowie. They'll both receive a set of Kodak Big Print mailers. Here's Ron's hint:

I like to have the leader of my film outside the cartridge after rewinding. It makes preparation a lot easier when developing in plastic tanks. My new automatic camera, however, rewinds the film all the way into the cartridge.

When this happens, there is a simple way to get the leader back out: Take a piece of fairly stiff paper cut to a width slightly less than that of your cartridge and about six inches long. Fasten a piece of double-sided tape to the top. If you don't have double-sided, use a loop of Scotch tape.

Slip the paper inside the cartridge and push until the tape makes contact with the film. Then wind the film to make sure the tape has caught. You can tell you're correct when you see the strip of paper starting to disappear into the cartridge. Gently pull it out and the leader will come with it. This saves a lot of fumbling in the darkroom.

Here are several from the list Marty sent in:

I have had problems with the combination of lens hoods and lens caps. In many cases when the hood is used, the cap no longer fits. If you have a Nikon, all you need is a Tupperware cover from a 16-oz. tumbler. This has worked like a charm on lenses from 24 to 105 mm. If you don't have a Nikon, take your camera with you to the supermarket, and as you walk through the aisles, you're sure to spot something with a cap to fit your gear.

Want to try a new kind of tripod? Get a pair of Vise-Grip pliers and a tripod head bolt. Slip the bolt through the slot in the pliers (you may need some help from an electric drill) and you're in business. This kind of pliers will clamp on like a bulldog. I have used mine to support a camera with a motor drive on the backs of chairs, fences, shelves and other people's furniture with no problem.

Thanks for the great response.

Q. A friend tells me that the video cameras that television crews use cost in the $50,000 range. If this is true, why are they so much more expensive than the video cameras I see advertised in the $1,000 range?

A. Paul M. Lyons, longtime editor and expert in this field, agreed that a professional camera with "all the bells and whistles" could indeed cost many thousands of dollars.

The reason is the improved quality of both video and audio. Paul explained that the faster the speed and the wider the recording area of pictures or sound, the better the quality and the more money you spend.

The television industry started with video cameras that used two-inch tape. As the state of the art improved, they moved to one-inch, then 3/4-inch. Now ABC and CBS are moving to half-inch in Sony Beta systems. Others are testing another half-inch system called the M-2 format.

These machines are smaller, weigh less than 20 pounds and are high-tech marvels for both pictures and sound, and so simple to use that one-man video "crews" will be the rule on ABC beginning in August (in the beginning it was five).

The cameras designed for non-professional use also have improved, partly because of the improvement in professional equipment. Most of us find that these $1,000 cameras are great for home use. But the industry cameras have to produce blow-ups for editing, masters for duplication and images that can stand up to the rigors of transmission.

The best illustration of the difference came several years ago, when someone made some tape of "the Loch Ness monster in the Chesapeake Bay." The tape looked presentable on the living room TV set. Then, when one of the local stations tried to run it on studio equipment, the images fell apart. It was like trying to enlarge a disk negative to 16x20.

One other thing, about sound reproduction: The home machines seem to emphasize pictures rather than sound. Sound from this equipment is fine in the living room, but can't compare to the sophisticated professional. But, after all, that's their business.

Carl Kramer deals with questions of general interest but cannot answer letters individually. Send queries c/o Weekend, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington DC 20071.