We induce quantum jumps between the hyperfine ground states of one and two cesium atoms, strongly coupled to the mode of a high-finesse optical resonator, and analyze the resulting random telegraph signals. We identify experimental parameters to deduce the atomic spin state nondestructively from the stream of photons transmitted through the cavity, achieving a compromise between a good signal-to-noise ratio and minimal measurement-induced perturbations. In order to extract optimum information about the spin dynamics from the photon count signal, a Bayesian update formalism is employed, which yields time-dependent probabilities for the atoms to be in one of the two hyperfine states. This analysis is extended to short time bins where a simple threshold analysis would not yield reasonable results. We discuss the effect of super-Poissonian photon number distributions caused by atomic motion.
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