This paper considers some of the most important optical parameters that characterize a digital holographic microscope (DHM) and presents their mathematical derivation based on geometrical and diffraction-based models. It supports and justifies the use of the out-of-focus recording of holograms by showing that the field of view can be increased when recording the hologram in front of the in-focus image plane. In this manner a better match between the space–bandwidth product (SBP) of the microscope objective and that of the reconstructed hologram can be obtained. Hence, DHM offers a more cost-efficient way to increase the recorded SBP compared to the application of a high-quality microscope objective (large numerical aperture and low magnification) used in conventional microscopy. Furthermore, an expression for the imaging distance (distance between hologram and image plane), while maintaining the optical resolution and sufficient sampling, is obtained. This expression takes into account all kinds of reference-wave curvature and can easily be transferred to lensless digital holography. In this context it could be demonstrated that an object wave matched reference wave offers a significantly smaller imaging distance and hence the largest recoverable SBP. In addition, a new, to our knowledge, approach, based on the influence of defocus on the modulation transfer function, is used to derive the depth of field (DOF) for a circular aperture (lens-based system) and a rectangular aperture (lensless system), respectively. This investigation leads to the finding that a rectangular aperture offers an increased resolution combined with an increased DOF, when compared to a circular aperture of the same size.
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