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I have a content type with an imagefield. I need to get a reference to the file object during node save or update, so I can do something with it.

function foo_node_presave($node){
    if ($node->type ==='foo'){
        $filename = $node->original->field_foo_image['und'][0]['filename'];
    }

In the above code, $filename isn't populated yet when a new node is being created. It does work during a node update if there was already a file in that field.

How can I get a reference to the file object in a filefield/imagefield in a hook during node creation?

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Even if the field hasn't been updated yet you should have access to the fid column (the file ID), which you can use in conjunction with the file_load() function to get the filename:

// Load a file object based on the fid column fo the field.
$file = file_load($node->field_foo_image[$node->language][0]['fid'];

// Get the filename.
$filename = $file->filename;
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