Lens manufacturing codes
Some older Canon lenses are stamped with a manufacturing code consisting of two letters and (typically) four numbers.
Before 1986, the code may be in a letter/4 digit/letter format
The first letter indicates the manufacturing site:
U = Utsunomiya, F = Fukushima, O = Oita
The second letter is the year the lens was made
|A = 2012, 1986, 1960||B = 2013, 1987, 1961||C = 2014, 1988, 1962||D = 2015, 1989, 1963||E = 2016, 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|
So the UC1204 Canon Date code would indicate a lens made at Utsunomiya in December 1988
The date codes restarted at ‘A’ again in 2012. This TS-E24 mk2 lens ‘UD0406’ was purchased in 2015 (box dated May 2015)
It seems that the old date code system is still in use – a TS-E17 UC0903 (Sept. 2014) is consistent with the box date (Oct. 2014)
[Thanks Ciriaco for the update]
The 3rd and 4th digits are an internal Canon manufacturing code. Starting in 1990, Canon only date coded some specific lenses
|All L-series lenses||EF15mm f/2.8 Fisheye||EF24mm f/2.8||EF28mm f/2.8||EF28-70mm f/3.5-4.5|
|EF28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 II||EF35mm f/2||EF35-70mm f/3.5-4.5||EF35-70mm f/3.5-4.5||EF35-105mm f/3.5-4.5|
|EF35-135mm f/3.5-4.5||EF50-200mm f/3.5-4.5||EF50mm f/1.8||EF50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro||EF70-210mm f/4|
|EF100-200mm f/4.5||EF100-300mm f/5.6||EF135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus||MP-E65 f/2.8 Macro||TS-E45mm f/2.8|
A newer lens date code
Note that the codes have become less common on recent lenses, with serial numbers in a different ‘xx y zzzzzzz’ format.
This is indicated on this EF8-15 f/4L fisheye zoom 7900001555
The first two digits are a date code, indicating month and year of manufacture.
In this case ’79’ equates with June 2011′
The next number ‘0’ is believed to be a batch or manufacturing revision number (it has been used in the service/recall process)
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.
We believe the code was reset to 01 for Jan 2013 – but this is still not known for certain. The figures here should be taken as a guide. If you find a change in codes, please do let us know and we’ll see what we can add to this info.
The code seems to work for modern ‘L’ lenses, but take this example of an EF50/1.4
The lens was purchased in March 2012, so the code ’83’ for October 2011 is reasonable. The digit ‘5’ for a revision code is also reasonable for a lens that’s been around for a few years (1993), but we are left with a 5 digit serial number.
The ‘revision’ code is not certain, with a 2014 50/1.4 starting 17080xxx – OK for 17 (May 14), but ‘0’ for the rev code?
…Thanks to a reader for sending this in – if you have any more examples, please do let us know?
So, a way of identifying dates, but not quite so clear as the old letter codes.