The advantages of holography for remote optical inspection and mensuration can be greatly reduced by loss of image quality caused by an unoptimized reconstruction geometry. For underwater holography it is essential that image quality is high to ensure mechanical defects, such as cracks, corrosion, or deformities, can be detected. In practical replay systems, a number of physical constraints limit image resolution to a value significantly lower than that theoretically possible in an ideal system. In most cases, even this limited resolution is unobtainable, due to mismatch of the reconstruction wavefronts caused by imprecise relocation of the hologram and inexact conjugation of the reference beam. It is shown how deviations from the optimum reconstruction geometry affect image resolution, both theoretically and experimentally, for a number of in-air and underwater recording geometries.