A theoretical analysis describing the dependence of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) on the number of pixels and the number of particles is presented for in-line digital particle holography. The validity of the theory is verified by means of numerical simulation. Based on the theory we present a practical performance benchmark for digital holographic systems. Using this benchmark we improve the performance of an experimental holographic system by a factor three. We demonstrate that the ability to quantitatively analyze the system performance allows for a more systematic way of designing, optimizing, and comparing digital holographic systems.
©2005 Optical Society of America
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