Based on Fresnel diffraction formula, the spatial frequency distribution of the holograms recorded with plane and spherical reference wave are analyzed. Using the sampling theorem and the condition of spectrum separation, the general recording conditions of the digital hologram are deduced. The minimum recording distances and the offsets of the reference wave for some practical recording configurations are given. The deduced recording conditions about off-axis Fresnel hologram are different from others, which are different each other. The separating condition of the frequency spectrum for Fourier transform holography is applied directly in their derivation. Moreover, they have applied different other approximations in their derivation. No approximation is applied to our deduction. Therefore, the results derived from our proposed method are accurate. The recording conditions of digital holography with general spherical reference wave are presented firstly on our knowledge. The recording conditions of in-line and off-axis lensless Fourier can be gotten directly as special case. The simulations and the experiments demonstrate that the method and the results are valid. The results also show that only the sampling and separation conditions are met simultaneously, the reconstructed image with high quality can be obtained.© (2007) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.