Three major analytical tools in imaging science are summarized and demonstrated relative to optical imaging in vivo. Standard resolution testing is optimal when infinite contrast is used and hardware evaluation is the goal. However, deep tissue imaging of absorption or fluorescent contrast agents in vivo often presents a different problem, which requires contrast-detail analysis. This analysis shows that the minimum detectable sizes are in the range of 1/10 the outer diameter, whereas minimum detectable contrast values are in the range of 10 to 20% relative to the continuous background values. This is estimated for objects being in the center of the domain being imaged, and as the heterogeneous region becomes closer to the surface, the lower limit on size and contrast can become arbitrarily low and more dictated by hardware specifications. Finally, if human observer detection of abnormalities in the images is the goal, as is standard in most radiological practice, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve and location receiver operating characteristic curve (LROC) are used. Each of these three major areas of image interpretation and analysis are reviewed in the context of medical imaging as well as how they are used to quantify the performance of diffuse optical imaging of tissue.