This paper gives a comparative analysis of classical and holographic methods for solving the problem of three-dimensional visualization of microscopic phase objects. A holographic phase-contrast method based on the addition and subtraction of waves in an interference fringe and the method of interferometry in fringes of finite width are considered. The optical layout of a holographic interference microscope that implements these methods is presented. Three-dimensional images of untreated erythrocytes of human blood are experimentally studied, and a comparison is made of the possibilities of the holographic phase-contrast method and the method of interferometry in fringes of finite width. © 2005 Optical Society of America

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