Tip: Canon Lens Aging - How Old Is This Lens?

Canon Lens Aging - How Old Is This Lens?

A surprising element when buying anew lens is always old are they.

When you buy them through Canon distributors or even when you get a great second hand bargain.

But would it be really a bargain?

Find out more by knowing how old your lens are by just following my tips.

Beside the rear lens element of many (but not all) Canon lenses is a date code (as seen above) in the form of "UV0913". This code is also present on many 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, "V", 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:

A = 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

* assumption of continuation being made for future years.

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, "13", are meaningless in determining how old a Canon lens is because 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 which in most cases you will never get access to it).

The Canon lens date code in the sample picture indicates that this Canon EF 400mm f/4.0 DO Lens was made in Utsunomiya, Japan in September 2007.

So as you can see I bought it this month June 2008 but the lens was manufactured last year in September. Now you just have to check this on your lenses and see how old are they.

This is also very helpful when buying items on second hand at dealer shops or even over Ebay transactions.

Last but not least this is a good way of telling if the lens came out on a period that people complain about focus issues and canon replace them for new ones, etc, etc, etc.


Antonio Correia said...

Very usefull and clever information.

Anonymous said...

I have two Canon "L" lenses, a 28-70 and a 70-200 and neither seem to have this info.

I don't think they date before 1960, so perhaps it's an "L" thing.

Too bad, it would have been nice to know.

It's another thing to look for when buying a used lens, though.



Anonymous said...

I own 4 canon lenses (none of them "L" lenses) and I can't find a code like this on any of them. They all have an 8 digit number near the rear lens, but nothing with letters in it.

Would have been interesting info.


Rick said...

I had to look real hard. The numbers were very faint and small. They are located on the black portion of the mount directly opposite the contacts.