The aim of this work was to assess whether an audit of clinical image quality could be efficiently implemented within a limited time frame using visual grading characteristics (VGC) analysis. Lumbar spine radiography, bedside chest radiography and abdominal CT were selected. For each examination, images were acquired or reconstructed in two ways. Twenty images per examination were assessed by 40 radiology residents using visual grading of image criteria. The results were analysed using VGC. Inter-observer reliability was assessed. The results of the visual grading analysis were consistent with expected outcomes. The inter-observer reliability was moderate to good and correlated with perceived image quality (r2 = 0.47). The median observation time per image or image series was within 2 min. These results suggest that the use of visual grading of image criteria to assess the quality of radiographs provides a rapid method for performing an image quality audit in a clinical environment.