“How old is my lens?”

Years ago I sold a lens on Ebay. I was asked by several people what the code was on the mount end of the lens. At the time I was an advanced amateur and had no idea what the potential buyer was talking about. But after a quick inspection, sure enough, there was a six digit alphanumeric code on the mount of my lens.

Most Canon lenses come with that code printed on the rear mount and camera bodies do as well. Prior to 1986 the code didn’t tell you where it was manufactured, only the year and month. After 1986 Canon added an extra lead letter representing it’s birth factory. As well, one can guess it’s an older lens if you see less than six digits.

If you see a U, F or O as the front letter, followed by another letter, then 4 numbers, you know that it was made in 1986 or after.

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

The next letter is the year of manufacture, the chart below will help decode…
The next two numbers are the month the lens was made. 01 = January, 10 = October
The last two number are some sort of Canon internal code that has nothing to do with the age of the lens or where it was manufactured.
**If you have a code with a letter at the front, that is the year it was made and the letter at the end is where it was manufactured.

A = 1986
B = 1987
C = 1988
D = 1989
E = 1990
F = 1991
G = 1992
H = 1993
I = 1994
J = 1995
K = 1996
L = 1997
M = 1998
N = 1999
O = 2000
P = 2001
Q = 2002
R = 2003
S = 2004
T = 2005
U = 2006
V = 2007
W = 2008
X = 2009
Y = 2010
Z = 2011

If your lens only has one lead letter that translates a manufacture date prior to 1986, you should refer to the chart below

A = 1960
B = 1961
C = 1962
D = 1963
E = 1964
F = 1965
G = 1966
H = 1967
I = 1968
J = 1969
K = 1970
L = 1971
M = 1972
N = 1973
O = 1974
P = 1975
Q = 1976
R = 1977
S = 1978
T = 1979
U = 1980
V = 1981
W = 1982
X = 1983
Y = 1984
Z = 1985

There you go, now you have an idea of when the lens was produced and in which factory by Canon in Japan. However, you don’t know how long the lens sat on the shelf at Canon or in your local store. A receipt will help you there.

-RRG

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