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A method and system for measuring and determining the full-field spatial distributions of strain tensor field components in a two or three-dimensional space, as a consequence of deformation under generalized loading conditions. One or more digital cameras may be used to acquire successive images of a deforming body with optically distinctive features on its surface. A method for determining the location of characteristic points of the surface features and another one for tracking these points as deformation occurs. Elongations between neighboring points on the vicinity of a location of interest are computed. The elongation between points is calculated even though discontinuities may exist between them. Strain tensor fields are directly calculated as a tensor approximation from these elongations without determining or using the displacement vector distributions.