Experimentally the real and imaginary parts of the Fourier spectrum are separated and used to detect the nature of the object, i.e., whether the object is an odd or even function or a combination of both. A modified Twyman–Green setup is used for this purpose. This type of splitting of the object function into even and odd parts may become useful in different fields of image processing. As an application the same technique is used for accurate measurement of the grating frequency. © 1995 Optical Society of America.