The optimization of image fusion is researched. Based on the properties of nonsubsampled contourlet transform (NSCT), shift invariance, multiscale and multidirectional expansion, the fusion parameters of the multiscale decompostion scheme is optimized. In order to meet the requirement of feedback optimization, a new image fusion quality metric of image quality index normalized edge association (IQI-NEA) is built. A polynomial model is adopted to establish the relationship between the IQI_NEA metric and several decomposition levels. The optimal fusion includes four steps. First, the source images are decomposed in NSCT domain for several given levels. Second, principal component analysis is adopted to fuse the low frequency coefficients and the maximum fusion rule is utilized to fuse the high frequency coefficients to obtain the fused coefficients and the fused result is reconstructed from the obtained fused coefficients. Third, calculate the fusion quality metric IQI_NEA for the source images and fused images. Finally, the optimal fused image and optimal level are obtained through extremum properties of polynomials function. The visual and statistical results show that the proposed method has optimized the fusion performance compared to the existing fusion schemes, in terms of the visual effects and quantitative fusion evaluation indexes.