This work describes the image formation and properties of holographic three-dimensional (3-D) display based on spatial light modulators (SLMs) combined with optical imaging systems. Existing pixelated SLMs with periodic mesh structures affect the holographic reconstruction and display properties. According to a holographic 3-D display architecture based on SLM in paraxial optical systems, this study applied the ray matrix optics and scalar diffraction theory to regard the light wave emitting from the holographic plane to the image plane as an optical system composed of four matrix elements. The image quality and depth of field (DOF) of the holographic 3-D display system are investigated, and the relationship between the impulse response and the matrix elements of the holographic imaging system is derived. In addition, the imaging properties and DOF are explored and verified through optical experimentation.