The performance of conventional denoising algorithms is usually controlled by one or several parameters whose optimal settings depend on the contents of the processed images and the characteristics of the noises. Among these parameters, noise level is a fundamental parameter that is always assumed to be known by most of the existing denoising algorithms (so-called nonblind denoising algorithms), which largely limits the applicability of these nonblind denoising algorithms in many applications. Moreover, these nonblind algorithms do not always achieve the best denoised images in visual quality even when fed with the actual noise level parameter. To address these shortcomings, in this paper we propose a new quality-aware features-based noise level estimator (NLE), which consists of quality-aware features extraction and optimal noise level parameter prediction. First, considering that image local contrast features convey important structural information that is closely related to image perceptual quality, we utilize the marginal statistics of two local contrast operators, i.e., the gradient magnitude and the Laplacian of Gaussian (LOG), to extract quality-aware features. The proposed quality-aware features have very low computational complexity, making them well suited for time-constrained applications. Then we propose a learning-based framework where the noise level parameter is estimated based on the quality-aware features. Based on the proposed NLE, we develop a blind block matching and three-dimensional filtering (BBM3D) denoising algorithm which is capable of effectively removing additive white Gaussian noise, even coupled with impulse noise. The noise level parameter of the BBM3D algorithm is automatically tuned according to the quality-aware features, guaranteeing the best performance. As such, the classical block matching and three-dimensional algorithm can be transformed into a blind one in an unsupervised manner. Experimental results demonstrate that the performance of the BBM3D algorithm is superior to its nonblind version both in visual qualitative evaluations and quantitative comparisons for various images and noise levels.