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Year a lens is manufactured


New Member
I know how to figure out the year a back and a body were manufactured.


My body and back are UR######## so they were made in 1978

But I do not know how to figure out the year that my lens was manufactured. Do you?

The date of manufacture of a Zeiss/Hasselblad lens can not be learned by looking at the serial number. But Zeiss st&ed their lenses with a code revealing the date of manufacture in red ink on the wall of the rear lens baffle. It is present in all but the very earliest C lenses.

The cde is st&ed on the inside wall of the "tunnel" the rear element moves through, and you will have to set the lens to its close-focus limit to move the rear element oput of the way, and than look hard, perhaps using a torch/flashlight too.
The imprint wasn't always perfect sometimes too much ink, bleeding, making "6"s look like "8"s. Sometimes too little ink or insufficient contact so that parts of letters or digits failed to appear. The ink may have worn and/or darkened, making it hard to see or decipher.

Before 1980 the code was a three or four digit number. The last two digits always represent the month of manufacture. The key is the month's number ("1" for January, "2" for February, etc.). The first, or first two represent the year of manufacture, which can be found by adding the "1957" to the code.

Early lenses sometimes are st&ed more than once. The date of manufacture will most likely be represented by the earliest date found, while later dates may represent the times the lens had returned to the factory for repairs or adjustments.

The code was changed in 1980 to a two digit + one letter code. The two digits are a reversed representation of the year of manufacture. "28", for instance, is (19)82, etc. The letter is a code for the month of manufacture, "A" standing for January, "B" for February, etc.
In later lenses a trailing "A" or "B" was added. The significance of which is still unknown.
Describe your lens. 80 2.8 C silver? 80 2.8 C Black T*? 80 2.8 CF? 80 2.8 CB? Serial number? There's no way to tell the exact year of the lens, but someone may be able to tell you the years it was manufactured.
Hey guys, thanks for the posts.

Qnu - I found the numbers, in my case they were 1809 which is September 1975 according to you. Thanks!

Tom_c - I have a 80 2.8 C Black T*

To corroborate: is the serial number anywhere near or between 5779569 and 5785751 (but not above 5788082 nor below 5776604)?
Dear Qnu,

I removed my lens and checked for the date code, but did not find anything ! As you already know, my lens is new - bought in late Ausust 2003. I turned the focus ring all the way such that the rear element retreated in the barrel, but could not find any marks on the inside of the barrel. What am I doing wrong ? Thanks in advance.


Alas, i don't know.
Sometimes with older lenses too it is difficult to find the date-st&.
Maybe it's there, but very faint and/or in a place you wouldn't expect it to be (like the outside of the tube, i.e. the two protective "ridges" sticking out, or on the rear plate of the lens itself).
Maybe, as in your case, it simply isn't there.

It's possible too that Zeiss has stopped putting a code in a place visible to us, mere mortals, and started hiding it somewhere inside the thing where only Zeiss employees can find it after opening the thing. I don't know; i must confess i haven't seen lenses made during the last few years. ;-)

Zeiss apparently isn't, or ever has been, very forthcoming with information about production dates and numbers of their products. I believe they regard that as "strategic information" best kept secret.
Hasselblad historian par excellence Richard Nordin has listed Zeiss/Hasselblad products's serial numbers and their estimated dates of manufacture in his "Hasselblad System Compendium" (a book listing all the Hasselblad items ever produced, including interesting historical information about Hasselblad and their products. Though already 5 years old, so that newer items are not included, it is a must-have book!), the result of collecting heaps of data about lens types, serial numbers, info about when they may have been purchased by the first owner, etc. A lot of work this must have been, which could have been avoided if only Zeiss would not be so stingy with information.
> On my lenses, the serial number is on the ring around the front lens, no st& inside the tube, just plain where everybody can see it.

Jeroen van Weert.

We're not looking for the serial numbers.
Zeiss serial numbers are assigned in blocks to subsequent "job lots". There is no system in them other than that, no key to help us tell when a particular lens was made.
So unless we have a record of what block of serial numbers was assigned when, to what production batch of what type of Zeiss lens, and when the lenses these numbers were assigned to were actually made, knowing serial numbers can not help date a lens.
As i mentioned, Zeiss does not supply that sort of information to anyone. Though they certainly will have a complete record of all the relevant facts.

So we are looking for the thing that can help us date a lens: the semi-hidden date code st& that can be found on must (but perhaps not all) Hasselblad/Zeiss lenses.
Have a close look; you'll probably find them on your lenses too. There is no fixed place for these st&s, though they all appear somewhere on the rear if the lens barrel, and mostly on the rear baffle. So you may have to look outside the "tunnel" too.
These st&ed codes can be hard to see. Sometimes they are only visible because the ink used has a different shine than the material used on the rear baffles. But do have a look!
Looked in the barrel of my two lenses,
The 120mm makro and the 80mm, and they do not have any st&ed code or whatever. These lenses were purchased last year as part of a new 501CM set, so I presume the lenses were recently manufactured

Dear Qnu,

Thank you for your reply. Next time I remove the lens, I will take another look to see if I can spy the date code. The serial no. of mt lens is 8904659 - if that tells anything !
I certainly hope that I never have to have my lens dismantled..but should a situation arise, I will definitely look deeeeep inside the barrel for that eluding code !!

Cheers, Kommini
I have a question about the code. What month is represented by the letter "M"? My 150mm Sonnar bears the st& M28, hence it was made in 1982, but the 13th month is a mystery to me.

Another question: My 80mm Planar bears two st&s, E18 and H18. What can this mean?

The mystery deepens...
I see now, the two st&s indicate that the lens was probably sent back to Zeiss for some reason. I bought the double st&ed lens from the distributor back in 1981. It's a C lens. My 150mm is a CF lens. My Distagon is an early silver C version. All have served me well. I have an early 24 back that I think needs to have its light seal replaced.

Actually the serial number does not fall in that range. It is Nr6069281. Is this a discrepancy?

The serial number maps (using the tables in Nordin's book) to 1977.
Yes, it is a discrepancy. There will be an explanation (perhaps the lens was returned to Zeiss at some time, overhauled, and given a new front ring?), but i can't tell what that might be. Only speculate.


The serial number you give is not tabulated, because it is too new.
This, by the way, is an instance of "this record thing" working the other way round, history being recorded for future use:
knowing that you purchased the lens this year, we can write the serial number down, plus lens type, date of purchase, and a preliminary, presumed date of manufacture(probably 2001 or 2002). When more numbers and collected the presumption gradually becomes a probability and finally a (near) certainty.


You not finding a st&ed date code on your recent lenses, together with Kommini's experience of the same, is an indication that late lenses indeed are no longer st&ed (like the very early lenses, which did not have this st& either).


The letter "M" is indeed a bit of a mystery. I have never seen the letter code going beyond L = 12 before, and can't think of a reasonable explanation right now. Except, of course, that this decoding-key is not correct, and that the letter does not indicate a month after all.
If so, the rarity of any letter appearing "beyond L", opposed to the frequency of any of the first twelve letters of the alphabet is food for thought. Another mystery to ponder (like the significance of the extra A or B added later).

Your CF 150 mm Sonnar having both E18 (may 1981) and H18 (june 1981) codes appearing on it is a bit odd too. Very close. Could it be that the lens was returned to the factory for a major overhaul/repair only one month after it was originally produced? Makes you wonder what happened to it. ;-)
And another thing is puzzling: the CF lenses were first introduced in late 1982. Nordin lists a batch of C type 150 mm lenses still produced in 1981.
So yours must be a very early one. The table in Nordin's excellent book, is not complete, and less so when newer/later lenses are concerned. But this is still odd, especially with that batch of C 150 mm lenses being produced the very same year.
The mystery is even deeper than was imagined. Ah well... More things for the historians to research! ;-)

And apropos continuing research:

I would like this opportunity to ask all of you to join in, and send me data about your lenses: type barrel (C, CF, CFi, CFE, F, FE; when it's a C lens what finish); type lens; serial number; date code(s) found; what you can tell about when it was bought if it was bought new; or any other useful info you know that can help put a date to it.

Should you want to help, please send these data to

Thanks in advance!

Despite having provided strong evidence to the opposite, i do know both the alphabet and the months of the year. "18H" of course is, uhmm... let me see... "A" is "january", "B" is... i've got it! "18H" is "august 1981", not "june"! Sorry!

Still, the mystery remains...
Hello Q.G. de Bakkar,
It may be helpful if I clear up some confusion. The double marks, E18 and H18 are on my Planar 80mm, purchased around 1980-81.
The Sonnar is marked M28, was purchased in 1983.
The ink used on both the above lenses is red.
I had a fresh peek inside my good old silver C 50mm Distagon and there, in bright baby-blue is a blobbed 1 followed by the neat digits 207.

Thanks. You had indeed mentioned before that the 1981 lens was a C type 80 mm. My bad!

Could the "M" on your Sonnar be a "blobbed" "H"?
Dear members,

may I take a minute to put here some things straight. There have been some complaints in this thread and I would like to address these directly in the forum. Some assumption are correct and some are bullshit (if I am allowed to say so) and/or with the target just to demoralize others or to make advertisement for other sites.

We have been on travel the last 7 days quite a lot, so there was not the attention as normal to the Forums. I am sorry for that, but we are human beeings and have also a job to do.

1. The person who has turned on his auto-reply in his office e-mail without turning off his e-mail notifications in this forum has been temporarly excluded to avoid further empty e-mails. The wrong postings have been deleted and the thread has been moved to the lens section.

2. It would help us, if you as the users of this forum would also pay attention, if you are opening a new thread to think about the appropriate selection of the thread location.

3. In case something is not working properly in your opinion, it would also help us tremendiously if you could send an e-mail to the webmaster of the forum instead of making a discussion in the thread about it. We can then react a lot faster as some of you have seen on the forum.

4. The fact that we are running also other forums does not make this one a bad forum. Each forum is only what you are making out of it. It is YOU who are writing the postings and helping others. Obviosly someone wants to push here for his own purposes against our sites.

5. Quote: "I wonder if any one else in this group has suddenly found their junk mailbox filled with SPAM. I have, and I believe it is linked to this forum."

Sorry to say but this is a wrong assumption and even worse to state in the public without any proof. There is no way for spam spiders to get your e-mail address in this forum - in contrary to other forums or yahoo mailing lists. The only exception is if you post your e-mail yourself in the public accessable buy and sell section. But this should be common sense and if you do it nevertheless it is on your own risk as with all internetsites and internet forums on the internet.

6. Michael, I do not know why you try to motivate others to leave this forum. I do not see this as a very ethical behaviour. Whatever the reason might be behind it, all assumptions that you would have the key to make safer websites than the rest of the world is a very short sighted dream. As I stated earlier, there simply does not exist a safer way than simply not to have the e-mail address appearing in the forum. This is how we handle it and everybody who checks it will realize that there is NO WAY to get your e-mail address here except you give it openly to them.

7. There is a very detailed help/FAQ section in the forum, incl. contact information for the webmaster. Just click on it AND READ it. We spend a significant time in putting this all together for you and find it very disappointing, that some people prefer to complain instead of using the help we provide already by default.

8. We stress our efforts again to give you here a real great place to help each other, to join thís community and to give you the opportunity also to have a dialog with some producers - as you will see in the future. I think it is worth it as a Hasselblad Fan. If others might think differently, they are free to participate on other forums, but please stop making this hype against this forum, which is so obvious only for your personal benefit.

9. Since Michael thinks he is doing everything better than we do, is only complaining in public, but never directly to us, he seems not to be really interested in the participitaion in this forum, so we accept his leave, wish him the best and exclude him from this forum.

Thanks for reading this long posting and thanks for those who defended this realy great place while we have been on the road.