Kapitza-Dirac-Talbot-Lau interferometry (KDTLI) has recently been established for demonstrating the quantum wave nature of large molecules. A phase space treatment permits us to derive closed equations for the near-field interference pattern, as well as for the Moire-type pattern that would arise if the molecules were to be treated as classical particles. The model provides a simple and elegant way to account for the molecular phase shifts related to the optical dipole potential as well as for the incoherent effect of photon absorption at the second grating. We present experimental results for different molecular masses, polarizabilities and absorption cross sections using fullerenes and fluorofullerenes and discuss the alignment requirements. Our results with C60, C70, C60F36 and C60F48 verify the theoretical description to a high degree of precision.