Soft-tissue image-guided interventions often require the digitization of organ surfaces for providing correspondence from medical images to the physical patient in the operating room. In this paper, the effect of several inexpensive surface acquisition techniques on target registration error and surface registration error (SRE) for soft tissue is investigated. A systematic approach is provided to compare image-to-physical registrations using three different methods of organ spatial digitization: 1) a tracked laser-range scanner (LRS), 2) a tracked pointer, and 3) a tracked conoscopic holography sensor (called a conoprobe). For each digitization method, surfaces of phantoms and biological tissues were acquired and registered to CT image volume counterparts. A comparison among these alignments demonstrated that registration errors were statistically smaller with the conoprobe than the tracked pointer and LRS (p<0.01). In all acquisitions, the conoprobe outperformed the LRS and tracked pointer: for example, the arithmetic means of the SRE over all data acquisitions with a porcine liver were 1.73 ± 0.77 mm, 3.25 ± 0.78 mm, and 4.44 ± 1.19 mm for the conoprobe, LRS, and tracked pointer, respectively. In a cadaveric kidney specimen, the arithmetic means of the SRE over all trials of the conoprobe and tracked pointer were 1.50 ± 0.50 mm and 3.51 ± 0.82 mm, respectively. Our results suggest that tissue displacements due to contact force and attempts to maintain contact with tissue, compromise registrations that are dependent on data acquired from a tracked surgical instrument and we provide an alternative method (tracked conoscopic holography) of digitizing surfaces for clinical usage. The tracked conoscopic holography device outperforms LRS acquisitions with respect to registration accuracy.