We present a comprehensive analysis to guide the use of the nonlinear photon response in photon-counting arrays to extend their optical dynamic range far beyond 1/Tdead, where Tdead is the pixel dead time after photon detection, so as to achieve a high dynamic range of >120 dB. This extension depends on the actual recharge (or reset) mode applied to the photon-counting pixels, where each mode features a different photon response and signal-to-noise ratio. While linearizing the photon response, the signal-to-noise ratio decreases. By limiting the signal-to-noise ratio decrease to maximally -3dB, one can extend the dynamic range by more than 16× for active event-driven recharge.