Orbs with Dots - PDAF Focus Pixels in Sun Reflection Lens Flare

Orbs with dots.jpg

Source: (MUFON case 84702)

A variety of images reported as "UFO"zm show what looks like a glowing disk with some dots on it. These basically look like lens flares, but the dot patterns are unusual, as they vary from irregular, regular, or or semiregular patterns. However they still look very two dimensional - they don't seem to curve around the "orb". Here's a collection of similar images all claimed as "UFOs"


What we are seeing here is a reflected image of the sun with the highlighted reflections of focus pixel.

Source: http://www.dailytech.com/iPhone+6s+Focus+Pixels+Are+Already+Used+in+Galaxy+S5/article36587c.htm

Focus pixels like these first showed up in large numbers in Samsung Galaxy phones. As you can see in the close-up picture above it's a modification of some of the green pixel sensors. More fully called "passive autofocus phase detection pixels", or Phase Detection AutoFocus (PDAF) pixels. It works by shielding pairs (or paired groups) of pixel in such a way that by comparing the light between the two the camera can detect if the light hitting from two directions is in phase, and hence in focus.

It's complicated, but the simple fact is there's this irregular grid of pixels on many sensors.

And the pattern of the PDAF dots matches the patterns seen in lens flares

So essentially the image of the bright sun, shining in the lens, is reflected off the sensor. The masked PDAF pixels show up brighter due to the covering material (which is why they show up in the microscopic pixels, above). This pattern then reflects off one layer of the lense assembly and back on the sensor.

Put another way what we are seeing is the image of the sun as it is projected onto the sensor. You'd see the same thing if you could somehow get a tiny camera inside the phone camera.

These dotted images are going to vary with camera because of different sensors (not all have PDAF), and different lens assemblies. Double reflections can be caused by additional layers of glass, like lens protectors, or may be the result of shooting through a window.

These image might become less common in the future, as Samsung has phased out the PDAF array with a new technology in the Galaxy S7, Dual Pixel Autofocus which eliminates the need to mask pixels as it uses ALL the pixels by having two sensors per pixel. See:

The majority of the images seen so far seem to be from Galaxy S5 or S6 phones. S7 phones will make an orb, but with no dots. I've not seen it on an iPhone.
Last edited:
Another example cropped up in the news a couple of days ago:
The UFO Report has the full photo:

So it's clearly exactly the same thing. It's an internal reflection of the image of the sun on the sensor, with PDAF (autofocus) pixels.
Here's a different type of "orb with dots" I just took.


It's an iPhone 5 ghosting image.

The sun is actually behind the trees, so what we are seeing is an image of the sun with tree branches in front of it.
Here's an iPhone 6 reflection. I suspect this is also a sensor reflection.

The contrast enhanced version shows some variation, but it's not clear if this is from variations in the sensor reflectivity like the dots on the Galaxy-S6.
Thread starter Related Articles Forum Replies Date
J In 1994 Military Helicopter monitors Orb near Crop Circle UFOs and Aliens 19
J Rolling UFO and orbs Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 14
E UFOs over London, UK, 2011 UFOs and Aliens 10
N How can I debunk the orbs in this photo? UFOs and Aliens 22
Mick West Some Interesting Fibers and "Orbs". Ballooning Spiders? Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 13
Mick West Debunked: Airplane passenger 'takes picture of UFO that was giving off bright lights and orbs' UFOs and Aliens 28
Mick West Red and Blue Side-by-Side Contrails, Midlands, UK Skydentify - What is that Thing in the Sky? 35
J 10 White "UFO" objects filmed flying over Japan UFOs and Aliens 15
Fin Watching a UFO From My Roof (UFO Releasing Glowing Orbs Into a Formation) - debunked? UFOs and Aliens 0
Whitebeard Claim - 'Orbs Killing Chemtrails' Contrails and Chemtrails 29
Whitebeard Explained: Colorado Man Photographs Flying Jellyfish-Like ‘Critters’ [Water on Lens, Caustic Bokeh] UFOs and Aliens 17
DebunkingShills Orbs: Something the metaJUNK shills just can't debunk. Contrails and Chemtrails 24
Debunk This Chem/Con orbs.. no debunking these things Contrails and Chemtrails 234
Eleora Explained: "Quantum Dots" - Storing medical information below the skin’s surface Coronavirus COVID-19 13
endoplasmic_reticulum Claim: Aliens are controlling the SUN (Small, bright "UFO" dots near the Sun) UFOs and Aliens 2
Mick West Debunked: Alien Base on the Moon, Triangle of Dots [photo artifact] UFOs and Aliens 56
Leifer The Problem with Connecting Dots..... Practical Debunking 11

Related Articles