Abstract Due to the ongoing miniaturization of digital camera sensors and the steady increase of the “number of megapixels”, individual sensor elements of the camera become more sensitive to noise, even deteriorating the final image quality. To go around this problem, sophisticated processing algorithms in the devices, can help to maximally exploit the knowledge on the sensor characteristics (e.g., in terms of noise), and offer a better image reconstruction. Although a lot of research focuses on rather simplistic noise models, such as stationary additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN), only limited attention has gone to more realistic digital camera noise models. In this paper, we first present a digital camera noise model that takes several processing steps in the camera into account, such as sensor signal amplification, clipping, post-processing, … We then apply this noise model to the reconstruction problem of high dynamic range (HDR) images from a small set of low dynamic range exposures of a static scene. In literature, HDR reconstruction is mostly performed by computing a weighted average, in which the weights are directly related to the observer pixel intensities of the LDR image. In this work, we derive a Bayesian probabilistic formulation of a weighting function that is near-optimal in the MSE sense (or SNR sense) of the reconstructed HDR image, by assuming exponentially distributed irradiance values. We define the weighting function as the probability that the observed pixel intensity is approximately unbiased. The weighting function can be directly computed based on the noise model parameters, which gives rise to different symmetric and asymmetric shapes when electronic noise or photon noise is dominant. We also explain how to deal with the case that some of the noise model parameters are unknown and explain how the camera response function can be estimated using the presented noise model. Finally, experimental results are provided to support our findings.