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12-21-2015, 06:38 PM   #1
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What can one learn from a lens serial number?

A buyer has asked for the serial number for a lens I currently have on eBay. What can someone learn from the serial number? I'm not assuming their motives are bad, I just don't know what one can learn.

12-21-2015, 06:40 PM   #2
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If it's listed in one of the stolen serial number lists.
12-21-2015, 06:44 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Depending on the suspicious nature of the buyer,
  • Whether the item apears in any stolen goods database
  • Roughly when the lens was manufactured (doesn't work well for Pentax)
  • Nothing. The buyer just thinks he SHOULD ask
12-21-2015, 06:44 PM   #4
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Some people think that the serial number can be an indication of age of the lens. With Pentax that is usually not the case, as Pentax seems to use a system not based on anything I can understand.

In addition there are serial number databases for stolen lens, and for stolen property in general.

The person may have had a lens stolen and is checking to see if anyone on ebay / craigslist is selling it.

12-21-2015, 06:45 PM   #5
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It can also be used to narrow down the true age of the lens.
12-21-2015, 07:04 PM   #6
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For Leica, catalogs with look-up tables can be used to find the age. Older Nikons were the same way and newer I don't know. Older Canon, the numbers are even less related to age than Pentax, newer ones I don't know. With Russian, Hasselblad, and Kodak, the age is explicit in the serial number.
12-21-2015, 07:10 PM - 3 Likes   #7
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The serial number should be listed or better yet pictured in the listing. It's an identification method so you get the used lens you purchased. I always list it, I have heard of people that buy something say it is defective, then return a different lens. The serial number can protect both buyer and seller.

---------- Post added 12-21-15 at 09:14 PM ----------

On Vivitar lenses you can find out who the manufacturer was by the serial number. https://www.cameraquest.com/VivLensManuf.htm
12-21-2015, 07:19 PM   #8
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Maybe the buyer is a Nikon owner, where you can look up the age and other things about a Nikon lens based on its serial.

AFAIK there is no similar resources for Pentax.

12-21-2015, 07:36 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
The serial number should be listed or better yet pictured in the listing. It's an identification method so you get the used lens you purchased. I always list it, I have heard of people that buy something say it is defective, then return a different lens. The serial number can protect both buyer and seller.
How sad. I never thought of that.
12-21-2015, 08:11 PM   #10
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Great suggestions folks. I originally bought the lens off eBay a few years. Where is this database? I plugged the number into the database here on pentaxforum but it was no help.
12-21-2015, 08:30 PM   #11
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For some third party lens providers, the serial number identifies the manufacturer.

Great Vivitar 28mm Bestiary
12-21-2015, 09:45 PM   #12
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Pentax Serial Number Database - PentaxForums.com
12-22-2015, 01:12 AM   #13
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Are you worried the lens you are selling is stolen?

Anyway, yeah. I thought it was mostly so that the buyer knows which lens to expect and the seller knows which lens he sent. This way, the seller can't send a different lens from the one pictured, and the buyer can't return a different lens than the one received.

Yes, checking for stolen lenses is also possible, but I don't think its that common.
12-22-2015, 04:14 AM   #14
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In the case of the FA Limited's it can also indicate what type of coating was applied. Ie some believe the earlier coatings have more 'Pixie Dust' than the latter - or so the story goes. This thread goes into the details about some of the earlier ones apparently having lead in it and there being an obvious colour difference.
12-22-2015, 06:07 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Newtophotos Quote
Great suggestions folks. I originally bought the lens off eBay a few years. Where is this database? I plugged the number into the database here on pentaxforum but it was no help.
Many are being registered here; https://www.lenstag.com/
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