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A variable parameter mode of digital image acquisition was developed for secondary ion image depth profiling (IDP). The new method substantially extends the dynamic range of the IDP technique by automatically optimizing the detector gain and acquisition time for each individual image. Postacquisition processing of IDP’s allows generation of local area depth profiles (LADP’s) from areas ranging in size from 1 μm2 to the entire image field. Detection limits of LADP’s using the entire image field are within a factor of 2–3 of those obtained using conventional pulse‐counting electron multiplier detection. The lowest detectable signal is limited by camera noise to approximately ten secondary ions per second. A LADP from a 1 μm2 area with a dynamic range of four orders of magnitude was achieved using the variable parameter mode.