27 April 2017

Part of my enjoyment of using old Canon FD lenses on my modern digital camera is simply that they are old, in contrast to the ephemeral — almost disposable — nature of so much modern technology.

But exactly how old is old? FD and New FD lenses were produced between 1971 and 1995. Fortunately, Canon stamped the rear plate with a date code that gives the month of manufacture.

The code “V1015” on my Canon New FD50mm f/1.4 indicates that it was manufactured in October 1981.

These codes are explained in a number of places, but most explanations gloss over the existence of two slightly different formats:

The switch from the first format to the second format seemed to occur in the middle of 1986. The latest first-format code I’ve seen is “A400” (April 1986) and the earliest second-format code I’ve seen is “UA0801” (August 1986).

Here is a table with a complete correspondence between the letters and years.

LetterFirst FormatSecond Format
A1960/19861986
B19611987
C19621988
D19631989
E19641990
F19651991
G19661992
H19671993
I19681994
J19691995
K19701996
L19711997
M19721998
N19731999
O19742000
P19752001
Q19762002
R19772003
S19782004
T19792005
U19802006
V19812007
W19822008
X19832009
Y19842010
Z19852011

FL Lens Codes

As far as I know, earlier FL lenses did not have date codes.


EF Lens Codes

EF lenses initially continued to have second-format date codes. After 2008, the date of manufacture can be determined from the serial number.


© 2017 Alan Watson Forster