How to work out the age of a Canon lens

Whether buying a second-hand lens or just wanting to have a sticky-beak around your existing equipment, here is how to work out the date and place of manufacture of your Canon lens.

Whether buying a second-hand lens or just wanting to have a sticky-beak around your existing equipment, here is how to work out the date and place of manufacture of your Canon lens.

Photography website The Digital Picture has listed a handy way to work out the age of your lens based on the serial number. Older Canon lenses were easier to date because they had a specific code, whereas newer lenses and bodies (post-2008) shifted towards serial numbers instead.

First, find the 10-digit serial number and divide it into the following pattern:

DD C SSSSSSS

The first two letters (DD) will help you determine the year of manufacture. Simply consult the table below to find out when it was made. The other letters indicate batch number, as well as the actual serial number of the lens in question.

(Screenshot by CBSi)

If you have a slightly older lens, or one that has not yet succumbed to the serial number phenomenon, you can also work out how old it is by looking at the marking on the black plastic by the lens mount. Generally featuring a six digit combination of letters and numbers, the first letter indicates what factory it is made in (U for Utsunomiya, Japan; F for Fukushima, Japan; O for Oita, Japan), while the next one is the year of manufacture.

This lens was built in the Utsunomiya, Japan, factory in May 2012. (Credit: CBSi)

You can work out the year it was made by consulting this list compiled by The Digital Picture:

  • A = 2012, 1986, 1960

  • B = 1987, 1961

  • C = 1988, 1962

  • D = 1989, 1963

  • E = 1990, 1964

  • F = 1991, 1965

  • G = 1992, 1966

  • H = 1993, 1967

  • I = 1994, 1968

  • J = 1995, 1969

  • K = 1996, 1970

  • L = 1997, 1971

  • M = 1998, 1972

  • N = 1999, 1973

  • O = 2000, 1974

  • P = 2001, 1975

  • Q = 2002, 1976

  • R = 2003, 1977

  • S = 2004, 1978

  • T = 2005, 1979

  • U = 2006, 1980

  • V = 2007, 1981

  • W = 2008, 1982

  • X = 2009, 1983

  • Y = 2010, 1984

  • Z = 2011, 1985

Finally, the next two numbers that immediately follow the year code is the month. So, for example, 03 = March and 12 = December.

Never fear if you're a Nikon user, as this handy list will give you the approximate manufacture date of a huge array of lenses based on serial number.

 

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