Canon Lens Serial Number Year

How old is your Canon lens? With either the lens' serial number or date code, that question can be answered.

Canon has been transitioning to a 10-digit lens serial number (starting in 2008 with the Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens) and ending the inclusion of a separate manufacturing date code. While date codes and the shorter serial number are still found on some lenses, this inclusion will likely end completely. We loved the date code because it made aging a lens easy. However, now we can age a lens based on the serial number alone.

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. I tried verifying Canon body and lens serial numbers by calling Canon USA support. She said they can't verify by serial number if a camera was USA or 'gray'. Where to find your serial number The location of your serial number varies between different Canon products. The serial number is a combination of numbers and/or letters, without spaces or special characters. Canon Date Codes Because they are chronological, serial numbers usually do tell the approximate age of a Canon SLR or SLR lens, but Canon Inc. Has never put out any sort of public information about serial numbers. The remaining seven digits '0001555' are a basic serial number (this was a very early lens - one of the first shipped in the UK) How to interpret the date code? It's been suggested that the code starts in January 2008 with the number 38 and increments each month of the year. How to determine age of a Canon lens. Separate from the actual serial number. In 1990, Canon started placing date codes on select lenses only.

For information on determining the age of a pre-10-digit serial number lens, see the section on interpreting the old date code below.

Determine the age of a Canon lens based on the 10-digit serial number

To age a Canon lens using the 10-digital serial number, we dissect the serial number as follows:


The DD is the key to the date the lens was manufactured - the production date code. The Canon lens date code chart is shown below.


These dates should be viewed as approximations and should be used for your amusement as the estimates are not guaranteed correct. Please send any discrepancies you find. Note that Canon EOS DSLR camera body serial numbers, at least for 2013, do not follow this chart. Also please note that future dates shown in the table are predictions/expectations.

The third digit in the serial number, C, may be a charge/batch type of number. Canon has been using this number to indicate lenses needing specific service-related updates such as firmware.

The remaining digits in the serial number, SSSSSSS, are a uniquely-identifying number of the lens – likely within the production month.

Please note that, while the overall chart is holding out nicely with the lenses we've checked (including several late-2014 models), it is a work-in-process. In part, the numbers might be shifted by a month or so. Again, please send us any discrepancies you find.

Special thanks go out to friend-of-the-site Norbert for his role in the development of this chart.

To determine the age of a pre-10-digit serial number Canon lens bearing a date code

Until phasing out the practice starting in 2008, Canon included a date code beside the rear lens element of many (but not all) lenses (note that some 2012-manufactured lenses retain the date code). The date code (as seen below) is in the form of 'UR0902'. This code is also present on some other Canon products including camera bodies.

The first letter, 'U', indicates that the lens was made in Canon's Utsunomiya, Japan factory. Prior to 1986, this letter is moved to the last position of the date code.

U = Utsunomiya, Japan
F = Fukushima, Japan
O = Oita, Japan


The second letter, 'R', is a year code that indicates the year of manufacture. Canon increments this letter each year starting with A in 1986 and prior to that, A in 1960 without the leading factory code. Here is a table to make things simple:

Canon Lens Serial Number Year Model

A = 2012, 1986, 1960
B = 2013, 1987, 1961
C = 2014, 1988, 1962
D = 2015, 1989, 1963
E = 2016, 1990, 1964
F = 2017, 1991, 1965
G = 2018, 1992, 1966
H = 2019, 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

The first two numbers, '09', is the month number the lens was manufactured in. Month 02 is February, month 11 = November. The leading zero of the month code is sometimes omitted.

The next two numbers, '02', are meaningless in determining how old a Canon lens is. This is a Canon internal code (that is occasionally omitted).

You now know the manufacture date for your lens - But - You cannot know how long the lens was in inventory, in shipping transit and on a shelf until it was originally purchased (without having the original receipt or a reputable person accurately informing you).

The Canon lens date code in the sample picture indicates that this Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L Lens (I know the lens model because I took the picture - not from the date code) was made in Utsunomiya, Japan in September 2003.

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:

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.

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.

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

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  • 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.

Canon Lens Serial Check

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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