The dynamic range, sensitivity, and dark decay of holographic recording of wavelength 458 nm in LiNbO3 crystals doped with 0.2-at. % Mn with different oxidation states have been measured. The measured sensitivity is 0.5 cm/J and is found to be independent of the oxidation state, and the largest M/# obtained is 12/mm (extraordinary light polarization; light wavelength, 458 nm). This combination of very large M/# and high sensitivity is in strong contrast with results for LiNbO3:Fe for which a direct trade-off exists between M/# and sensitivity. The activation energy of the dark decay of holograms stored in these LiNbO3:Mn crystals is similar to1.0 eV, which is characteristic of proton compensation and leads to a projected lifetime of holograms of three years at room temperature. (C) 2002 Optical Society of America.