Abstract: Canon Date Codes

Photography - Canon EOS, digital, nature



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. However, the is another way to get the information about a camera body or lens. For cameras, look inside the body's film chamber for an alphanumeric code printed in black ink on the black surface of the film chamber. You may have to hold the camera under a strong light to see it. What you'll see is a date code, possibly something like "U1140F."

The first letter tells the year the camera was manufactured: in this case, 1980. It's an alphabetic code; A = 1960, B = 1961,....T = 1979, U = 1980, and so on up to Z = 1985. The next 2 numbers tell you what month the camera was made, in this example, November. (the leading zero for the month code is sometimes omitted, so an A-1 with a code of "Y362" would have been manufactured in March, 1984, for instance.) The following 2 numbers are an internal code that is irrelevant for determining age, but year and month is close enough anyway, IMO. (This internal code is also occasionally omitted based on reports from Canon owners.) The last letter stands for the name of the factory. In this case, "F" stands for Fukushima which was the main Canon SLR factory for about 20 years from the early 70s until 1991. (The factory code is rarely omitted, if ever.)

So a body with the Code "U1140F" was made in November of 1980 at the Fukushima factory.

Starting in 1986, the year code was restarted with "A" again, but the factory code was placed before it. Now that Canon SLRs are no longer manufactured at Fukushima, you're more likely to see a code starting with "O" for Oita. So, for SLRs manufactured in 1994, you might see a code starting with "OI" followed by the month code.

Letter Year
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

The same type of code is printed on the back of many (but not all) EF lenses as well, typically in small white characters on a black baffle in the rear lens mount. Normally it will read somethings like "UT0308". The "U" is the factory, the "T" is the year of manufacture (2005), the "03" is the month (March) and the final two numbers seem to be some sort of internal Canon code. Prior to 1986 the lens date codes did not include the factory letter.

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