Set your Nikon to shoot JPEG+RAW files to see the difference in the dynamic range available
Many photographers shoot both formats with the aim of using the JPEG file if it turns out fine, but keep the RAW file in reserve in case there are problems with the exposure. You’ll find the RAW+JPEG setting in the Image Quality options on the Shooting Settings menu.
It’s clear from this photo’s histogram that the highlights are clipped – the right end of the is chopped off. This is a JPEG file, and the problem can’t be fixed. What you see is what you get!
It is possible to recover some of the highlight detail in the RAW file– here it is in Nikon ViewNX 2. The histogram looks the same as the JPEG’s, but that’s because it’s currently being displayed ‘as shot’.
To recover the lost highlights, use the Exposure Compensation slider. It’s too late to change the exposure, so ViewNX 2 uses the extra highlight data in the RAW file instead.
This can make the rest of the picture dark, but the Shadow Protection slider can fix this. In effect ViewNX 2 is selecting the darker tones only and then lightening them.