Knowing the Age of Canon Lenses Based on Serial Numbers and Date Codes
Canon has made the transition to writing the 10-digit lens serial number and production date code separately. This coding method has been done by Canon since 2008 with the lens Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. While the date code and serial number are the short ones we usually see on older Canon lenses, it’s likely that writing will last forever.
If in the past we knew the age of a Canon lens based on a clearly written date code, now we can find out the age of a Canon lens based solely on the serial number.
How to find out the age of a Canon lens based on the ‘Serial Number‘
To be able to find out the age of a Canon lens based on the 10-digit serial number, we first need to dissect the serial number as below:
dd C SSSSSSS
dd is the code for the date the lens was manufactured. The following table describes the “DD” code for Canon lenses:
The date code should be understood as an approximation, not a guarantee that the lens was manufactured on that exact date. It is possible that the lens was produced a little later after or before that date. Note, the serial number on the DSLR Canon EOS (at least for 2013) do not follow the table above. Also note that future dates are shown in the table as predictions.
The third digit is the serial number Cpossibly translated as “Charges“. Canon has used this code to indicate a lens in need of an update regarding certain services such as firmware. While the last serial number SSSSSSSis a number of uniquely-identifying codes for the lens, possibly the month in which the lens was manufactured.
The table above was created by the-Digital-Picture with the help of some of his partners. Based on their statement that everything in the table above corresponds to what is stated in several Canon lenses that they have evaluated, including the last few models in 2014. Then in section, the numbers may be shifted by one month or more. It’s a good idea to observe any differences you find in your Canon lens.
How to find out the age of a Canon lens based on the ‘Date Code (Date Code)’
Since gradually switching to the new encoding method in 2008, Canon includes a “date code” written on the back of the lens (most, but not all). It’s noted that some lenses manufactured in 2012 still retain the date code. The date code in question is something like “UC1204“. A similar code is also present on several other Canon products including camera bodies. It may have the same meaning, but this discussion is specifically about coding on lenses. Look at the image below:
The first letter is “u“, indicates that the lens was made at the factory Canon’s Utsunomiya, Japan. Prior to 1986, this letter was in the last position of the date code. Here are the first few letter codes that indicate where Canon lenses are manufactured:
U = Utsunomiya, Japan
F = Fukushima, Japan
O = Oita, Japan
The second letter is “C“, is the year code that indicates the year the lens was manufactured. Keep in mind that the year is not written as numbers like 1960 or 2012, but is represented by an alphabet and starts with the letter “A”. This encoding method dates back to 1986. But earlier , in 1960 the letter A was written without the factory code in front of it.The following is a list of the year of manufacture of Canon lenses represented by the alphabet A-Z:
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 = 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
Then for the first two numbers, namely “12“, is the month code that shows the month the Canon lens was produced. For example the numbers 02 = February, 12 = December, etc. Sometimes this code is written without the number “0”. Then for the two numbers after that, namely “04“, has nothing to do with determining how old a Canon lens is. This is an internal Canon code that is sometimes omitted. Although there is no date specified, this code is known generically as the date code.
The date code “UC1204” in the image above was taken from the lens Canon EF 70-210mm f/4. Based on this code, we can know that the Canon EF 70-210mm f/4 lens was made in Utsunomiya, Japan in December 1988. This is just an example of how to find out the age of a Canon lens based on the date code. For lenses manufactured since 2008, once again read the instructions for translating the 10-digit serial number code above.