In many applications using light for practical purposes, the accuracy of optical experiment is limited most fundamentally by the finite amount of light utilized in the measurements. Special emphasis should be put on interferometry aimed at measuring the parameters of simple fringe patterns due to the following reasons. First, fringe parameter measurement provides a relatively well defined and tractable example of application of the theory. The desired parameters are easily defined, and methods for their measurement are readily devised based on common sense. Second, fringe parameter measurement is central to all problems involving coherence. The fundamental descriptors of light waves utilized in coherence theory are in fact measurable parameters of fringes. By examining the limitations to fringe parameter measurement, we are actually examining the limitations to the measurability of coherence itself. In this paper, fundamental limitations of estimating the amplitudes and phases of polar-interferograms recorded at low light levels are investigated. By modeling the receiver as a spatial array of photon-counting detectors, results are obtained that permit specification of the minimum number of photoevents required for estimation of fringe parameters to a given accuracy. Both a discrete Fourier-transform estimator and an optimum joint maximum-likelihood estimator are considered to specify the limiting performance of all unbiased estimators in terms of the collected light flux.