Optical metrology has shown to be a versatile tool for the solution of many measurement and inspection problems. The main advantages of optical methods are the non-contact nature, the non-destructive and areal working principle, the fast response, high sensitivity, resolution and accuracy. Consequently, optical principles are increasingly being considered in many areas where reliable data about the shape, the surface properties, the state of stress and the strength of the object under test have to be acquired. However, these advantages have to be paid with some serious disadvantages that are mainly connected with the poor features of identification problems. In this article several examples are presented where optical metrology is helpful for experimental mechanics. The presentation is mainly focused on two topics: the acquisition of quantitative data for experimental stress analysis and the solution of inspection problems by holographic non-destructive testing. Some current aspects such as modern approaches for the solution of identification problems, the installation of remote laboratories and the calibration of measurement set-ups by specially engineered calibration samples are discussed finally.