Every bit of camera gear you own has a unique serial number to identify it. It is what you’ll use to prove that a particular camera or lens belongs to you if you ever need to make an insurance claim or report something stolen. Here’s how to find your gear’s serial numbers.

It’s best to write all your serial numbers down as soon as you buy a new bit of kit. I personally use the free service Lenstag to record them. This way, you have access whenever and wherever you need them.

While your camera’s serial number is embedded in any image you take, the serial number of your lenses—or any other gear like your tripods or filters—isn’t. If you don’t have them written down, we’ll look at some ways you might be able to recover them, even if you don’t have your gear any more.

Finding Serial Numbers On Your Gear

The simplest way to find the serial number is to inspect your camera and lenses. It’s almost certainly printed, stamped, or engraved on them.

On your camera, you’ll most likely find a small sticker on the bottom near the tripod mount. This displays manufacturing information, as well as the serial number. In most cases, the serial number will be printed in black on a silver section. There might also be a “No.”, “Serial:”, “S/N.”, or some other indicator printed there.

On your lenses, you will normally find the serial number in one of two places: the side of the lens barrel or somewhere underneath the mount.

Here’s an example of the former.

And here’s an example of the latter.

Be very thorough when you look for serial numbers. As you can see in the image above where the number is on the lens barrel, they can be quite faint and hard to find. There might also be some other manufacturing numbers, so your best bet is to just record everything if you have any doubts.

Finding Serial Numbers On Receipts and Product Packaging

If your gear is missing, the best place to find the serial number is on any product packaging. A good camera shop will normally print it on any receipts too.

Root out any boxes you have left and look for a sticker. It will most likely say something like “No.”, “Body No.”, “S/N.”, or the like. Here’s the one for my camera.

If you can’t find the box, look for the receipt. My favorite camera shop is old school so they’ve handwritten in the serial number. Most places will print it.

If you can’t find the box or receipt, there’s a chance the store you bought it from might still have the information. My local camera shop keeps a record of all their sales especially so people can retrieve things like serial numbers if they need to. Reach out to where you bought your gear and see if they can help.

And one last tip. When you buy new gear and decide to throw away the box, grab a pair of scissors, cut out the part with the serial number and other information, and stick it in a file folder somewhere.

Finding Your Camera’s Serial Number Through EXIF Data

Your camera’s serial number, in some form, will be embedded in the EXIF data of your images. You can either use your operating system’s built in tools or an online viewer like Get-Metadata. I actually prefer Get-Metadata because it displays absolutely everything in a single window rather than across a few tabs, so that’s what I’m going to use to demonstrate.

Drag and drop an image you’ve taken with the camera onto Get-Metadata, and then click “Start Analyzing File” to upload it. A RAW image is best but this should work with any file from which you haven’t removed the metadata.

You’ll be presented with a full, alphabetized list of every bit of metadata in the file.

What you’re looking for is a value called Serial Number, Camera ID, or something similar. Go through the list value by value if you can’t find it.

Depending on your camera, it could be under Internal Serial Number.

If this is a case, the number might not match the number printed on the box, but it is still a unique identifier for the camera. The manufacturer should be able to convert the Internal Serial Number into the regular one if they don’t match, so contact them for support.

As you can see, the best thing you can do is just take down the serial number of any new gear you buy as soon as you get home. If you haven’t already, go and record it now before something happens. While it’s possible to recover it after your gear has been stolen, it’s a much bigger pain in the ass.

Profile Photo for Harry Guinness Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium's OneZero.
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