We describe the development of a rapid, noncontact imaging method, modulated imaging (MI), for quantitative, wide-field characterization of optical absorption and scattering properties of turbid media. MI utilizes principles of frequency-domain sampling and model-based analysis of the spatial modulation transfer function (s-MTF). We present and compare analytic diffusion and probabilistic Monte Carlo models of diffuse reflectance in the spatial frequency domain. Next, we perform MI measurements on tissue-simulating phantoms exhibiting a wide range of l values (0.5 mm to 3 mm) and (micro(s) (')micro(a)) ratios (8 to 500), reporting an overall accuracy of approximately 6% and 3% in absorption and reduced scattering parameters, respectively. Sampling of only two spatial frequencies, achieved with only three camera images, is found to be sufficient for accurate determination of the optical properties. We then perform MI measurements in an in vivo tissue system, demonstrating spatial mapping of the absorption and scattering optical contrast in a human forearm and dynamic measurements of a forearm during venous occlusion. Last, metrics of spatial resolution are assessed through both simulations and measurements of spatially heterogeneous phantoms.