This paper reports on a mutual information (MI) based algorithm for automatic extrinsic calibration of a 3D laser scanner and optical camera system. By using MI as the registration criterion, our method is able to work in situ without the need for any specific calibration targets, which makes it practical for in-field calibration. The calibration parameters are estimated by maximizing the mutual information obtained between the sensor-measured surface intensities. We calculate the Cramer-Rao-Lower-Bound (CRLB) and show that the sample variance of the estimated parameters empirically approaches the CRLB for a sufficient number of views. Furthermore, we compare the calibration results to independent ground-truth and observe that the mean error also empirically approaches to zero as the number of views are increased. This indicates that the proposed algorithm, in the limiting case, calculates a minimum variance unbiased (MVUB) estimate of the calibration parameters. Experimental results are presented for data collected by a vehicle mounted with a 3D laser scanner and an omnidirectional camera system.